Syria pledges to end opposition prosecutions

Syria's high judicial council has announced a suspension of prosecutions of opposition members so they can join a national dialogue, state media reported Sunday, without detailing the nature of crimes affected by the ruling.


The report comes after Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar had earlier vowed to ease the return of Syrian opposition members living in exile so that they too can take part in the dialogue proposed by President Bashar al-Assad on January 6.


"The high judicial council has decided to discontinue all prosecutions against opposition forces and individuals so they may participate in the national dialogue" the official news agency SANA said, without elaborating.


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 program to resolve the Syrian crisis."


In his January 6 speech, Assad proposed a dialogue with opposition figures who were not "slaves of the West" and on condition that "terrorist attacks" came to a halt before any political transition.


The regime has branded activists and armed insurgents alike as terrorists.


Shaar, in comments reported by state media on Saturday, said the directive allowing Syrians living abroad to return was not a blanket amnesty.


"Executive orders will be issued to border crossings to facilitate and guarantee that all political opposition forces may enter the country, maintain residency and leave at will," Shaar was quoted as saying.


"There is a big difference between those who safeguard their nation and those who are complicit in foreign agendas."


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

There is a big difference between those who safeguard their nation and those who are complicit in foreign agendas.