Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has granted a general amnesty for all crimes committed during the 10-month uprising, state-run media report.
It would apply to army deserters who turned themselves in before the end of January, peaceful protesters and those who handed in unlicensed weapons, Sana state news agency is quoted as saying.
The UN says more than 14,000 people are in detention.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged Mr Assad to end the violence.
“Stop the violence. Stop killing your people. The path of repression is a dead end,” Mr Ban said in a speech at a conference on Arab world democracy in Beirut.
President Assad has issued several prisoner amnesties since the start of the uprising in March, but thousands of people are believed to remain in prison.
The BBC’s Jonathan Head in neighbouring Turkey says the latest amnesty offer still does not address the issue of how the conflict may be brought to an end.
- More than 5,000 civilians have been killed, says the UN
- More than 400 killed since start of Arab League mission on 26 December
- UN denied access to Syria
- Information gathered from NGOs, sources in Syria and Syrians who have fled
- Vast majority of casualties were unarmed, but the figure may include armed defectors
- Tally does not include serving members of the security forces
Source: UN’s OHCHR
Tens of thousands of people across Syria continue to take to the streets calling for an end to the Assad regime – defying a crackdown that, the UN says, has killed 5,000 people.
In a rare public address last week, President Assad again accused international powers of trying to destabilise Syria, and vowed to crush “terrorists” with an “iron fist”.
On Saturday, the ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, said Arab countries should send troops into Syria to end the bloodshed.
“For such a situation to stop the killing… some troops should go to stop the killing,” he told US television channel CBS for a programme to be aired on Sunday.
It is the first time an Arab leader has publicly called for military intervention in Syria.