DAMASCUS, March 29 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian authorities released 500 rebels who recently surrendered themselves to the army on Saturday in the country's southern province of Daraa, as part of the government's reconciliation efforts, the official SANA news agency reported.
The 500 rebels were released in the town of Sanamain in Daraa, SANA said, adding that the release process took place with the presence of Grand Mufti Ahmad Hassoun who urged them to support their government in order to end the "terrorism" in Syria.
The Syrian army has made statements over the past few months, urging the opposition fighters to abandon their weapons and surrender themselves to the authorities, promising to clear their records.
Daraa's Governor Mohammad Khaled al-Hannous called on all of the residents in the province to defend the country.
The Syrian government, discouraged by slow-paced international efforts to bring about a political solution to end a three-year war in the country, turned to solve the crisis by reaching out to opposition fighters.
Syria has repeatedly said that it seeks to make national reconciliation efforts a success and has already restored security to several areas in the capital and its suburbs, enabling displaced families to return home.
Minister of National Reconciliation Ali Haidar said recently that the atmosphere in Syria is suitable for a real reconciliation process, following rebel defeats in battles that have led them to a "dead end."
"The atmosphere for launching a real reconciliation process has been attained over the past few months because of the dead end the armed militant groups have reached, after failing to achieve victories on ground and that's why a lot of them have resorted to surrendering themselves to resolve their situation and to reach an agreement with the state," Haidar told Xinhua in a recent interview.