The Syrian government claims armed gangs and terrorists are behind the nine-month uprising against Assad's rule. Government opponents deny that and say they are protesters seeking more freedoms in one of the most authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.
SANA said Tuesday that according to the new law, anyone found guilty of weapons smuggling would be handed sentences ranging from 15 years to life imprisonment. Those smuggling and distributing weapons with the aim of carrying out terrorist acts would be sentenced to death.
Meanwhile, an Arab League official says an advance team will travel to Syria Thursday to prepare for an observer mission that the Syrian government agreed to this week. The mission is tasked with ensuring the regime's compliance with an Arab plan for ending the nation's political violence.
'Terrorists behind uprising.' Syrian soldiers' funeral (Photo: EPA)
The 12-member advance team will be led by the Arab League's assistant secretary-general, Sameer Seif el-Yazal.
Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby told reporters Monday that the advance delegation will include legal, administrative, financial and human rights experts to discuss the makeup of the observer teams.
Syria agreed to the Arab League plan to send foreign monitors, bending to growing international pressure to end its bloody crackdown on a nine-month uprising.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said dozens of Syrian army deserters were shot dead on Monday as they tried to flee their base and defect to join the revolt against Assad.
The British-based group, citing witnesses who survived the attack, said Syrian forces attacked defectors in the Idlib province with machinegun fire. One of the survivors said some 60 to 70 deserters were killed.
At least 30 other people died in other incidents across the country, the activists said.
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