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Death penalty in Syrian terror law

Syrian president Bashar Assad has issued a new law under which anyone found guilty of distributing weapons for "terrorist acts" would be sentenced to death, a state-run news agency has said.

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 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 advance Arab League team is to travel to Syria on Thursday to prepare for an observer mission, a league official has said.

The mission is tasked with ensuring the regime's compliance with an Arab plan for ending the nation's political violence.

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 said 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 on Monday, bending to growing international pressure to end its bloody crackdown on a nine-month uprising.

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