On October 9, President Bashar al-Assad issued the legislative decree No. 18 for 2018 granting a general amnesty for military deserters inside and outside the country. This amnesty does not include fugitives from justice unless they turn themselves in within 4 months for those inside the country and 6 months for those outside the country.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov described this step as an effort aimed at supporting the reconciliation process in the war-torn country.
“Touching on the issue of pardoning deserters, probably, this is a step towards national reconciliation, towards creating conditions, which would suit those refugees who want to come back to Syria and internally displaced persons,” Lavrov said. “We actively encourage this determination of the Syrian leadership.”
Earlier, multiple media and pro-Western experts speculated that the refugees returning home would be discriminated and immediately drafted into the army, and no security guarantees would be provided to them.