What Happened Over the Weekend

Assad grants amnesties, coronavirus infections continue to rise in northeast Syria, four regime fighters killed in Quneitra. Catch up on what happened over the weekend.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree Sunday granting amnesty and reducing sentences for several categories of crime committed before May 2. SANA did not give a reason for the amnesty but it came days before Muslims celebrate Eid el-Fitr, the feast that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It also comes ahead of the May 26 presidential elections, which Assad will most likely win for a fourth, seven-year term in office. SANA described Sunday’s presidential decree as “the most comprehensive amnesty decree for perpetrators of crimes, misdemeanors, and felonies.”

The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian Federation Council Grigory Karasin said that the council will form a delegation to keep up with the presidential elections process in Syria following an official invitation from the country in this regard. On Wednesday, the People’s Assembly unanimously agreed to invite some parliaments of the brotherly and friendly countries to keep pace with the process of electing the president of the Syrian Arab Republic. “We received an official invitation from the Syrian side to keep up with the presidential elections in Syria … we will form a group of observers later, Karasin told Sputnik on Friday.

The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) announced the recording of 73 new coronavirus infections and ten deaths in northeastern Syria, North Press reported. The number of people infected with coronavirus in the regions of northeast Syria has reached 16,184 confirmed cases, including 615 deaths, and 1,654 recoveries. Meanwhile, the Health Ministry in Damascus announced Sunday that 80 new coronavirus infections were recorded in the country, 179 patients have recovered and five have passed away. The total number of coronavirus infections in the country reached up to 22,898, of which 17,171 cases have recovered and 1,603 have passed away.

At least four pro-regime fighters were killed by unknown assailants in southern Quneitra province on Friday, according to Zaman al-Wasl. The attack took place in Umm Batneh town where Syrian regime forces and allied Hezbollah militia are deployed near the Occupied Golan Heights. In retaliation the Assad forces have pounded the town with artillery fire, threatening to storm the Umm al-Kouroum region.

Iran-backed militias have set up rocket launchpads in the Deir-ez-Zor region where the missiles have been directed towards areas under the control of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is backed by the international coalition. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the militias have established 13 launchpads equipped with surface-to-surface Iranian-made missiles in al-Mayadeen in eastern Deir-ez-Zor, while nine others were placed in a barn in the Hawi al-Mayadeen area. All the launchpads are pointed towards the eastern Euphrates region. The nearest position to the platforms is the al-Omar oil field on the opposite bank of the river. No confirmed information has been revealed about Iran’s purpose from the move, such as whether it was planning attacks.

The Syrian and Russian Coordination Committees on the return of Syrian refugees affirmed that the large majority of Syrians in neighboring countries want to return to their areas liberated from terrorism, but the obstacles put by the US prevent them from returning. The two committees, according to The Syria Times, added in a joint statement that Syria and Russia are determined to continue work with the aim of providing various assistance to secure the voluntary and safe return of the displaced to the homeland and to provide good living conditions for them in the country, which led to the return of large numbers despite the obstacles put by the American side.”

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