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Report: Syria's Assad Orders Release Of Detainees

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Syria's state media today said that President Bashar al-Assad has ordered the release of all detainees arrested in a recent wave of protests, except those who committed crimes "against the nation and the citizens."

A rights group, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, has meanwhile said that hundreds of detainees were released today after they had been tortured.

The detainees had been accused of taking part in antigovernment protests last week in the city of Banias, a coastal town in northwestern Syria, and the nearby town of Baida.

The move comes after more than 5,000 women and children gathered on April 13 on the main road near Banias to demand their relatives be freed.

International rights groups have said that over 100 people have been killed since antigovernment protests began nearly one month ago.

Also today, Assad named a new cabinet, which holds little power in the country.

compiled from agency reports