Syria forms committee to study ending state of emergency

Syria is forming a judicial committee to form new legislation and lift Syria's state of emergency, in force since 1963, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported Thursday.

"Under a directive by President Bashar al-Assad, a committee of legal experts has been formed to study new laws on national security and counter-terrorism, in order to pave the way for ending the state of emergency," SANA said.

"The committee should finish its work by April 25," it added.

Assad is facing domestic pressure unprecedented in his 11-year rule as protests demanding greater freedoms in the country, which has been in a state of emergency for close to 50 years, enter their third week.

Protesters have called for more rallies across Syria after weekly Muslim prayers on Friday.

Activists estimate more than 130 people have been killed in clashes with security forces, mainly in the southern governorate of Daraa and the northern city of Latakia.

Officials put the death toll at closer to 30.

Assad on Wednesday blamed conspirators for deadly unrest in Syria but failed to lift emergency rule or offer other concessions in his first speech since protests demanding greater freedoms erupted earlier this month.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon

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