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Jun 24, 9:32 AM EDT

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DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- The Syrian government has released hundreds of detainees including some who backed the insurgency against President Bashar Assad.

Justice Minister Hisham al-Shaar told reporters that the 672 people released on Saturday included 91 women.

The release comes on the eve of Eid el-Fitr, the feast that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Syrian authorities usually release detainees on major holidays.

Tens of thousands of people have been detained since Syria's crisis began in March 2011. The conflict has killed some 400,000 people and displaced half the country's population.

Among those released in Damascus was 45-year-old Abdul-al-Rahman Ali who used to finance opposition fighters.

"I was wrong and every person makes mistakes. I have repented and returned to embrace my homeland," he said.

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