Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (R) welcomes former presidential candidate Maher Hajjar before a meeting in Damascus June 10, 2014, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters
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Syria has begun releasing prisoners from government jails under a general amnesty announced by President Bashar Assad, human rights lawyers told AFP Tuesday.Rights lawyers also said prominent prisoners of conscience, including journalist Mazen Darwish, were expected to be freed under the amnesty. The releases came a day after Syrian state television reported that Assad had declared an unprecedented amnesty, extending for the first time to those accused under the country's anti-terrorism legislation.Syrian lawyer Michel Shammas meanwhile said that it was unclear how the decree would apply for more than 50,000 people being detained in the country's notorious security branches, where torture is systematic.
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