TENSE

Syria Frees Political Prisoners

Trying to quell his nation's anger after a day of deadly clashes between protesters and government forces, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria released at least 260 political prisoners from the Sednaya military prison in Damascus. Fourteen of them were Kurdish and the rest were Islamists, according Abdul-Karim Rihawi, head of the Syrian Human Rights League. "It's a good start," he said, adding that the president needs to implement democratic reform soon if he wants to prevent future demonstrations and violence. "He has some time, and I think it will control the anger of the people," said Rihawi. Thus far protesters have not been demanding that al-Assad step down. The government blamed Friday's violence in the country's capital Damascus and the city of Daraa on gangs and foreign meddling, but journalists and neighboring countries have limited access to Syria.