The Thursday decree does not pardon common criminals, AFP reported, citing the state television.

“The president has decided to free all those held against the backdrop of recent events, except those who committed criminal acts against the homeland and its citizens,” the television said.

Since mid-March, Syria has been faced with weeks of protests that have left scores of people dead, including a number of security forces.

Also on Thursday, a group of snipers opened fire on Syrian soldiers in western part of the country, killing one serviceman and injuring another.

The government has blamed the protests on armed gangs and foreign powers.

Lebanese security forces detained two individuals attempting to drive two vehicles, laden with weapons and ammunitions, into Syria earlier in the day.

On Wednesday, Syrian State TV broadcast pictures of what it described as confessions by members of a terrorist group. Security forces say the group’s members received money and arms from foreign elements to carry out terrorist operations and incite unrest.

Syrian authorities have also announced the arrest of foreign elements that have played a role in provoking the recent tensions in the country.

Damascus has repeatedly denied allegations that its security forces were responsible for shooting at protesters, insisting that officers were given specific orders not to harm civilians.

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