July 25, 2015 / 10:04 AM / 2 years ago

Syria's Assad's announces amnesty for army deserters - Syrian TV

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree announcing a general amnesty for military deserters who violated the country’s compulsory military conscription law, state television said on Saturday.

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with Venezuelan state television TeleSUR in Damascus, in this handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA on September 26, 2013. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters

The decree, which was announced on state television, said the law that would lift legal penalties against thousands of army deserters, applied to those outside and inside Syria.

The Syrian army, one of the region’s largest, has been overstretched by a four-year long insurgency where it is battling on several major fronts Islamist rebels and ultra-hardline jihadist militants who have seized large swathes of territory. Many young men have fled the country or find ways to avoid conscription.

Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Toby Chopra

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