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Assad Orders New Amnesty Amid Pro-Government Rallies In Syria


Syrians watch on television as President Bashar al-Assad delivers a speech on June 20.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has issued a new presidential pardon for prisoners, as tens of thousands reportedly took to the streets across Syria to support him.

The decree grants general amnesty "for crimes committed before June 20, 2011."

This is the second pardon in less than a month, after his May 31 amnesty for all political prisoners detained during the unrest in the country.

It comes one day after he promised a package of reforms and that a new constitution would be presented soon.

Syria's official SANA news agency reported that huge pro-Assad rallies took place in the main squares in different cities of Syria.

Activists say government supporters and security forces clashed with regime opponents in Homs, Hama, and in the eastern city of Deir el Zour, leaving at least seven people dead.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, speaking in Paris, called for international pressure on Syria's leadership over its crackdown on antigovernment protests.

But Putin argued against military intervention, saying, "We don't think it is a good idea to interfere in the internal affairs of an independent, sovereign state. Developments in certain countries of the region have shown that the situation has not improved after our attempts to direct the process. And it's not even clear what is actually going on [in Syria] now."

Local human rights groups have said more than 1,300 civilians have been killed and 10,000 detained since protests demanding greater freedoms erupted in March across Syria.

compiled from agency reports