Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has reportedly issued a decree offering amnesty to armed rebels combating his military in Syria if they “turn themselves in to the competent authorities and lay down their weapons” within three months.
Citing the state-controlled Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), Agence France-Presse (AFP) quotes the edict as saying, “Everyone carrying arms … and sought by justice … is excluded from full punishment if they hand themselves in and lay down their weapons.”
The reprieve also applies to rebels “who set free in a safe way persons they kidnapped,” reports SANA. In the past, Assad has also granted amnesty to Syrian military deserters, criminals, foreign fighters who have joined terrorist groups, and fugitives.
The dictator issued the recent amnesty decree affecting the opposition on Thursday. AFP notes that rebels have three months to surrender.
Assad, a member of the minority Alawite Shiite sect that is backed by Shiite powerhouse Iran and Russia, considers all rebels, which includes the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and U.S.-backed groups, to be terrorists. Sunnis are the backbone of the Syrian rebellion.
Syria’s Grand Mufti Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun, the top Sunni cleric in the country, has urged the rebels to take advantage of the amnesty offer, calling “on those who carried weapon in Aleppo’s eastern neighborhoods and countryside to return to the lap of homeland.”
Although he is a Sunni, the religious leader supports the Assad regime.
SANA reports, “[Hassoun] appealed to families of Aleppo to cooperate with the Syrian Army and get the foreigners out of the eastern city to restore security and stability to Aleppo.”
According to the news agency, the General Command of the Army and Armed Forces in Syria has also urged rebels in Aleppo to raise the white flag and called on civilians to “join national reconciliations and expel foreign militants from their localities.”
The amnesty offer comes as the tide of the brutal Syrian civil war is turning in favor of Assad and his allies.
Breitbart Jerusalem reports:
The victory clinched by the Syrian army in Aleppo on Wednesday is a turning point in the Syrian conflict as well as global diplomacy at large, according to the assessment of an Arab diplomat speaking to Breitbart Jerusalem.
Earlier this week, in the most significant military breakthrough since the beginning of the Syrian civil war five years ago, the Syrian army imposed a blockade on Aleppo, cutting off escape and supply routes to the rebels in the city’s eastern districts.
Assad claims the amnesty offer has been on the table for rebels since day one of the war.
SANA reports that the Syrian dictator told the Greek ITV channel:
Speaking about amnesty, it is virtually in effect because since the start of terrorist acts in Syria, we have offered this as an option for terrorists.
If they want to return to normal life and lay down arms they will get amnesty. … Amnesty is in effect now and is … a good option to help those people who took up arms for different reasons to return to normal life …to the political life in case they have their own agenda … to go to political institutions … to head to the polls … to go for any kind of political measures available in any country.
Russia is assisting Assad with the reprieve for rebels, reports AFP.