President Assad offers amnesty to Syria rebels

Oct 07, 2016, 5:54 AM EDT
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks at Damascus university in 2012.
(Source: Al Jazeera English/flickr)

Following two weeks of intense bombing and shelling in the besieged city of Aleppo, Syria’s President Bashar al Assad announced on Thursday that the rebels who lay down their weapons will be pardoned. Rebels in Daraya, a suburb of Damascus, accepted one such offer in August and surrendered the area that was held by the opposition for years. Assad’s latest amnesty offer was rejected by rebels, who described the proposal as a “deception.”

Washington and other observers also greeted the offer with skepticism, writes Reuters. While Zakaria Malahifji, a Turkey-based official for the Fastaqim group which is present in Aleppo, dubbed it a “trick” by the regime, White House spokesman Josh Earnest described Syrian government’s sudden empathy for civilians as “outrageous.”

Assad’s comments came as U.N. envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, urged the fighters of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as the Nusra Front, to leave Aleppo, writes Rudaw. Russia and Syria have been bombarding the city on the pretext of war against the al-Qaeda-linked militant group.

In a separate development, Norbert Roettgen, a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (C.D.U.) and chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Bundestag, called for new sanctions on Russia, saying that the country must be held accountable for war crimes in Syria.