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Syria's Assad grants amnesty, supporters rally

BEIRUT - Syrian President Bashar Assad issued a general amnesty on Tuesday, a day after he promised wide-ranging but vague reforms to counter a three-month popular revolt against his autocratic rule.
Activists and analysts had dismissed Assad's promises on Monday, saying they failed to engage the demands of protesters who for three months have defied a fierce military crackdown in rallying for greater freedoms, posing the gravest challenge to his 11-year tenure.The pardon, the second of its kind in three weeks, includes anyone who committed crimes until June 20, the state news agency SANA said. After the first amnesty, Syrian authorities freed hundreds of political prisoners but rights groups say there are still thousands languishing in Syrian jails.
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