Syria's official news agency says President Bashar al-Assad has pardoned and released 112 political prisoners.

SANA reports that the mass release is part of what it calls the president's open and tolerant approach in dealing with the issue of political detainees.

Last month, Damascus freed 20 political prisoners, but Tuesday's was said to be the largest release in three years.

President Assad succeeded his late father, Hafez al-Assad, in July 2000, committing to political reform. However, rights groups have been critical of his administration, accusing him of cracking down on pro-democracy groups.

Some information for this story provided by AFP and AP.