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DAMASCUS, Syria - Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday issued a general amnesty for all prisoners, a possible concession to rebels ahead of a meeting meant to help end the bloody civil war.
The pardon would be extended to "criminals" -- a term often used by the regime to refer to political prisoners -- whose crimes were committed before Tuesday.
There were no further details about the plan, and no indications that prisoners had actually been released.
Assad, who made the announcement live on state television, has been fighting rebels trying to unseat him for over two years. More than 100,000 people have been killed in the struggle that has sent millions of Syrians fleeing across the country's borders, destabilizing the region.
The decree came as the United Nation's special Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi was visiting Damascus in an effort to convince the warring parties to sit down at the negotiating table.
Pardoning political prisoners is one of the pre-conditions demanded by the rebels before the international peace conference scheduled to take place at the end of November in Geneva.
Earlier Tuesday, the government dismissed the deputy prime minister Qadri Jamil for leaving the country and acting without government permission after he met met American officials.
"Jamil was dismissed because he left his center of work without prior permission and did not follow up on his duties," according to a statement on Syrian TV.
The minister, Jamil, is part of what Assad calls the "patriotic opposition" -- political parties that consider themselves rivals to the president but have not joined the revolt.
NBC News' Charlene Gubash and Reuters contributed to this report.