Syria’s Assad offers amnesty to military deserters and dodgers to encourage refugee returns

However, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says conditions have not yet been fulfilled for mass refugee returns.

Filippo Grandi, UNHCR chief, said refugees were concerned about conscription, as well as other issues such as the lack of infrastructure.

Russia, a backer of the Assad regime, has pressured the government to set the conditions for the return of millions still scattered across the Middle East and Europe, and welcomed the move on Tuesday.

“Steps should be taken toward a broader amnesty if Assad aims to incentivise return,” said Jesse Marks, a Middle East analyst. “But the conditions in the country are still not safe. Syrians do not trust the government, and winning that trust will be hard, and in many cases, impossible.”

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