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Syria issues amnesty for crimes during uprising

Updated at 9:35 a.m. ET:

Arab League foreign ministers will meet on Jan. 22 to discuss the findings of monitors sent to Syria to observe whether President Bashar Assad has implemented a plan to end 10 months of bloodshed, Egypt's Middle East News Agency said according to Reuters.

The Arab League monitors are due to complete on Jan. 19 a report on the situation in Syria. An Arab League committee on Syria, led by Qatar, will discuss the report on Jan. 21 but only a full meeting of the 22-member body's foreign ministers can decide whether to end, extend or beef up the mission.

Arab League chief warns of civil war in Syria


Published at 4:45 a.m. ET:

Reuters is reporting that Syrian President Bashar Assad has granted a general amnesty for crimes committed since the outbreak of a 10-month uprising against his rule, the state news agency SANA reported on Sunday.

SANA said the amnesty would cover "crimes committed in the context of the events that occurred from March 15, 2011, until January 15, 2012." It gave no further details.

French journalist Gilles Jacquier was among several people killed in Syria's central city of Homs on Wednesday, as the 10-month uprising against President Bashar Assad continues. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

It also applies to army deserters who fled military service if they turn themselves in before Jan. 31.

It was not clear how many prisoners would be affected by Sunday's pardon.

Since the outbreak of the uprising against Assad's rule in March, Assad has freed 3,952 prisoners, according to SANA.

The opposition claims there are thousands more in Syrian prisons.

Also on Sunday, U.N. Secretary General demanded Sunday that Assad stop killing his own people, and said the "old order" of one-man rule and family dynasties is over in the Middle East.

In a keynote address at a conference on democracy in the Arab world, Ban Ki-moon said the revolutions of the Arab Spring show that people will no longer accept tyranny.

"Today, I say again to President (Bashar) Assad of Syria: Stop the violence. Stop killing your people," Ban said during the conference in Beirut.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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