As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urges him restraint, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has granted a general amnesty for all crimes committed during the 10-month uprising, state-run media reports.
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.
“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.
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 – the first time an Arab leader has publicly called for military intervention in Syria