(Damascus) President Bashar al-Assad issued on Wednesday the legislative decree no. 8 for 2016, granting a general amnesty for military deserters inside and outside the country and the crimes included in the Military Service Law committed before 17th February 2016.
The decree grants amnesty on the full penalty for those who have deserted inside the country who are included in Article No. 100 of the Military Penalties Law issued by Legislative Decree No. 61 for 1950 and its amendments.
The decree grants amnesty on the full penalty for those who have deserted outside the country who are included in Article No. 101 of the military Penalties Law issued by Legislative Decree No. 61 for 1950 and its amendments.
This decree does not include fugitives from justice unless they turn themselves in within 30 days for those inside the country and 60 for those outside the country.
[END REPORT]I don't know how long the Syrian government has been granting amnesty on a case-by-case basis to opposition fighters, not just deserters. But since I began reading SANA, in the late fall of last year, I've seen numerous reports on such.
Just about every week a group of Syrian opposition fighters shows up at a government facility, asking to have their legal status reviewed. They have to show their I.D., give up their assault weapons (they can keep handguns) and agree not to fight against the government; beyond that their status is cleared and they're free to return to their lives. Some sign up to join or rejoin the military, but that is not a condition for the amnesty.
As I've noted before, this is a very intelligent government policy. Just how intelligent might be appreciated from the horrifically bad U.S. policy of 'blanket' de-Baathification in Iraq, which was certainly a driving factor in the creation of Islamic State.
Here's a recent report from SANA on one of the status review sessions with an accompanying photo taken from an earlier review process; as you can see they're pretty informal affairs:
Homs, SANA – 133 wanted persons had their legal status settled in Homs province on Sunday, according to SANA reporter.
February 7, 2016
The 133 persons, who are from Talbiseh and al-Rastan in the countryside of Homs and a number of neighborhoods in Homs city, had earlier turned themselves in to the authorities.
Last week, 23 wanted persons had their legal status settled in Hama, Homs, Aleppo, Lattakia and Idleb provinces.