The Syrian authorities on Wednesday released a total of 290 detainees as the first batch of prisoners pardoned under the general amnesty granted a day earlier by President Bashar al-Assad. On Tuesday, al-Assad granted general amnesty to some people who committed crimes before Oct. 23. The amnesty was issued apparently to mark the upcoming Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha that starts on Friday. The pardon covers those who did not take part in any bloody events and those whose hands were not smeared with blood, as well as some others who committed minor crimes, such as theft, forgery and military desertion. However, the amnesty excludes convicts of weapons and drugs smuggling. Since the start of the 19-month-old unrest, al-Assad has freed thousands of prisoners who did not commit murders.