BEIRUT — Syrian President Bashar Assad issued an order Tuesday freeing up to 7,000 prison inmates, but it was not clear whether the decree would apply to any of those jailed for participation in the rebellion that is seeking to overthrow his regime.
Assad issued a combination of commuted sentences and a general amnesty for selected prisoners, according to the official state news agency. The amnesty did not include people convicted of "crimes of treason, espionage and terrorism," the news agency's English-language website said, so it presumably excluded opposition activists, whom the government labels terrorists.
However, the decree in Arabic said some convicted of terrorism could receive a commuted sentence, though it did not make it clear whether that included people arrested since the uprising began in March 2011.
Under the terms of the decree announced by the government, death sentences are being reduced to life sentences, life sentences are being reduced to 20 years, and amnesty is being granted to certain prisoners who are older than 70 or have incurable diseases.