Syria's President Bashar al-Assad
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad Reuters

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has ordered troops not to fire on pro-democracy protesters on Friday bringing relief to eight-week long unrest in the country.

Bouthaina Shaaban, adviser to President Assad phoned Louay Hussein activist on Thursday and said, “Definitive presidential orders have been issued not to shoot demonstrators and whoever violates this bear’s full responsibility,” reported Reuters.

Hussein is hopeful that, he “will see no firing at the demonstrators on Friday.”

The government hopes the decision will mellow down the anti-government feeling on the Muslim day of prayer, Friday, which offers an occasion for Syrians to gather in large numbers to hold demonstrations. Since there will be no firing by the troops, Friday also marks a key test to the government.

“Seven-hundred people have died during the protests, this is the biggest challenge to Assad’s 11-year rule,” Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists said.

The Syrian government accuses external forces and the militants for the unrest in which more than 100 troops and policemen were also killed.