BEIRUT — President Bashar Assad of Syria issued a decree Monday granting “a general amnesty” for all crimes except for “acts of terrorism,” Syrian state television reported, raising tentative hopes among Syrians with relatives in detention.
The government has offered amnesties before that did not lead to the release of the tens of thousands of people whom human rights advocates say have been detained or imprisoned during the unrest in the country. But the timing of the latest decree came just after Assad won a new term in office.
Opponents and Western officials dismissed the presidential election on June 3 as a farce.
Reports about the amnesty in the Syrian state news media did not say specifically whether it would affect the many Syrians who, by the rights advocates’ accounts, are being held without charge for political reasons or have been charged with offenses like delivering humanitarian aid to opposition-controlled areas or attending protests.
Iran, Turkey boost ties
ISTANBUL — Turkey may buy more Iranian natural gas if a price dispute can be settled, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after talks with Hassan Rouhani, the first Iranian president to visit Turkey in 18 years.
Mr. Erdogan said he and Mr. Rouhani discussed gas pricing during a meeting in Ankara Monday, and asked energy ministers from the two countries to keep working on it. Turkey filed a complaint to the International Court of Arbitration in 2012 over the price of the gas it imports from Iran.
Mr. Rouhani is seeking to reconnect Iran with the world economy after a decade of isolation. Trade with neighboring Turkey plunged last year as a result of U.S.-led sanctions. The countries have also sparred over Syria, where they’re supporting different sides in the civil war.
Bill OK’s force-feeding
JERUSALEM — With nearly 300 Palestinian prisoners on extended hunger strikes and dozens hospitalized, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pressing for speedy passage of legislation that would authorize force-feeding if an inmate’s health is in grave danger.
The bill is opposed by the Israeli Medical Association, which calls it a violation of medical ethics, and by a government-appointed panel that said in a statement that the legislation’s provisions “contradict the principles of bioethics and should be rejected outright.”
The bill passed its first hurdle in the Israeli Parliament on Monday, which voted to send it to a committee. It must be approved twice more before becoming law.
MADRID — Scientists searching for the remains of Miguel de Cervantes in Madrid, author of the novel “Don Quixote,” have detected bones in five areas near his burial site, a forensic identification team said Monday.
The researchers said that evidence of bone remains had been found through geo-radar technology in the Convent of Barefoot Trinitarians, where the famous author was buried in 1616.
They may soon be able to confirm whether any of them belonged to him.
The exact whereabouts of Cervantes’ remains is unclear because the burial records are lost.
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