DAMASCUS (AFP) - Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has issued a general amnesty for crimes committed in the war-torn country prior to Tuesday, state news agency SANA reported.
"President Assad has issued decree number 23, granting a general amnesty for crimes committed before April 16, 2013," said the agency.
Under the decree, "the death penalty will be replaced with a life sentence of hard labour," it added.
Mr Assad has issued several amnesty decrees since an uprising against his regime erupted in March 2011.
The latest will not apply to people found guilty of smuggling weapons or drug-related crimes, but those convicted of joining the rebellion would get lighter sentences, said the text of the decree published on SANA.
"Syrians who joined a terrorist organisation will only have to serve a quarter of their sentences," said the decree.
"The decision does not apply to those who avoided conscription," the text added.