Syria releases hundreds of detainees ahead of Eid

2017-06-25 11:00
(Delil Souleiman, AFP)

(Delil Souleiman, AFP)

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Damascus - The Syrian government on Saturday released hundreds of detainees including some who backed the insurgency against President Bashar Assad on the eve of a major Muslim holiday.

Justice Minister Hisham al-Shaar told reporters that the 672 people released on Saturday included 91 women. He said of those released, 588 were freed in the capital Damascus, Assad's seat of power.

Al-Shaar added that the release came in a bid to "sustain national reconciliations efforts and the homeland's unity".

The release comes on the eve of Eid el-Fitr, the feast that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Syrian authorities usually release detainees on major holidays.

Tens of thousands of people have been detained since Syria's crisis began in March 2011. The conflict has killed about 400 000 people and displaced half the country's population.

Civilian institutions

Syrian government forces have been gaining ground around the country under the cover of Russian airstrikes and now control the five largest cities. The push has led to so-called reconciliations in areas around Syria in which opposition fighters either surrendered in exchange for amnesty or moved to rebel-held areas in northern Syria.

In northern Syria, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces released about 200 ISIS members in the Raqqa province at the request of tribal leaders in the region, according to the Britain-based opposition monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Observatory said all those released in the town of Tabqa and the city of Raqqa and its suburbs had no blood on their hands and had jobs with ISIS such as preachers or employees in the extremist group civilian institutions.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have been marching inside Raqqa since June 6, under the cover of airstrikes by the US-led coalition, with the aim of liberating the Islamic State's de facto capital of the extremists.

Read more on:    isis  |  syria

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