x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Syria pledges to suspend prosecution of opposition members

Syria's high judicial council has announced the prosecution of opposition members will be suspended so that they can join a national dialogue.

DAMASCUS // Syria's high judicial council has announced the prosecution of opposition members will be suspended so that they can join a national dialogue. It did not specify which crimes were affected by the ruling.

It comes after the interior minister, Mohammed Al Shaar, vowed to make it easier for Syrian opposition members living in exile to return to take part in the dialogue proposed by the president, Bashar Al Assad, this month.

"The high judicial council has decided to discontinue all prosecutions against opposition forces and individuals so they may participate in the national dialogue," said the official news agency, Sana.

The council stressed that those "opposition forces will be designated by the government or first ministerial action group charged with implementing the preparatory phase of the programme to resolve the Syrian crisis".

In his speech on January 6, Mr Al Assad proposed talks with opposition figures who were not "slaves of the West" and on condition that "terrorist attacks" ended before any political transition. The regime has branded activists and armed insurgents alike as terrorists.

Mr Al Shaar has said the directive allowing Syrians living abroad to return was not a blanket amnesty.

The United Nations said that more than 60,000 people have been killed during Syria's uprising, which began in March 2011 with peaceful protests and escalated into an armed insurgency after a harsh regime crackdown.