Syria offers amnesty, arrests up

May 2, 2011 at 1:26 PM   |   Comments

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DAMASCUS, Syria, May 2 (UPI) -- All Syrians coerced into acting out against the state will be given amnesty until May 15 if they turn themselves in, the government said.

Pro-reform demonstrations inspired by revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt began pouring into the streets last month in Syria. Syrian President Bashar Assad enacted a series of reforms meant to allay public concern though Syrian forces are reportedly attacking unarmed civilians.

The government issued a statement during the weekend calling on citizens who were "misled" into unlawful acts to turn themselves in under a general amnesty, al-Jazeera reports.

Demonstrators told the Arab broadcaster, however, that security forces were going house-to-house arresting any male over the age of 15. Sources said that nearly 500 people were arrested in Daraa and rights groups are putting the death toll at more than 580.

Syria won't let foreign journalists into the country to report on the unrest. The international community is targeting the regime in Damascus for using force against civilians, though the official Syrian Arab News Agency blames much of the violence on outsiders.

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