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Syrian President Assad's Promise of Amnesty Rings Hollow

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- Those who have rebelled against the authoritarian rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have to be wondering if the blanket amnesty he issued Tuesday is worth the paper on which its printed.

For the past 11 weeks, government forces have cracked down on pro-democracy protesters, with human rights groups claiming that well over 1,000 people have died at the hands of al-Assad's soldiers and security guards while more than 10,000 others have been arrested.

Syrian media now reports Assad has issued a general amnesty for “crimes committed before May 31, 2011" that covers all members of opposition groups, including the banned Islamic religious group, Muslim Brotherhood.

However, this might be another ploy by Assad to catch his enemies off guard.  His previous announcement ending a 48-year emergency law that allows his government to make arrests and stop demonstrations has proven insincere.

Sure enough, activists who checked into the "amnesty" offer said it mostly amounted to a reduction in demonstrators' sentences, whereby someone facing life in prison with hard labor would "only" do 20 years with hard labor.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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