Beirut: Hundreds of Syrians have been released from government prisons after an amnesty granted by President Bashar Al Assad to mark his re-election last week, a monitoring group said Friday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 320 prisoners were released from northern Aleppo Central prison on Wednesday as Al Assad’s victory in presidential elections was announced.

The Britain-based group said 480 other prisoners, including 80 women, would be freed from Adra prison in Damascus province.

Several dozen were freed Friday from Adra, while the rest of the 480 slated to walk free were transferred to a municipal building pending their release, the monitoring group said.

The Observatory said that all the Adra prisoners to be released had been held on charges of “terrorism,” a term the government uses for those involved in the uprising.

An estimated 18,000 people are being held in Syria’s prisons.

Around 3,500 detainees are believed to be held at Aleppo’s Central prison, which rebels have repeatedly attacked since April 2013.

Last month, Syrian troops ended a year-long rebel siege of the prison, with tanks and armoured vehicles rolling into the grounds of the sprawling facility.

Conditions inside the prison are reportedly dire, and the Observatory says 600 prisoners have died there because of lack of food and medicine as well as bombardment.

Observatory director Rami Abdul Rahman, citing lawyers for detainees, told AFP that the prisoner releases were reportedly a post-election “gesture” by Al Assad.

He won a new seven-year term with nearly 90 per cent of votes cast in Tuesday’s election, which the opposition and much of the international community have slammed as a “farce.”

Al Assad faced two little known candidates in the election.

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s Hezbollah chief said Al Assad’s re-election proves that any solution to the country’s conflict “begins and ends” with the embattled leader.

“The elections proved that a political solution in Syria begins and ends with President Bashar Al Assad,” Hassan Nasrallah, a key ally of Assad’s regime, said in a televised address.

Nasrallah dismissed the opposition key demand of Al Assad’s departure from office as a condition for any peace agreement.

“There is a president who has been elected by millions for a new seven-year term,” he said.

“Those who want to work for a political solution must talk to him, negotiate with him and reach a solution with him.”

Nasrallah said Al Assad’s re-election was a “political and popular declaration of the failure of war,” and said any solution required an “end to the support of extremist groups in Syria.”

Syrian state news agency Sana said Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Al Assad on his electoral victory in a telegram.

The news agency quoted Putin as saying the vote “clearly showed the Syrian people’s confidence in President [Al] Assad,” adding that North Korea had also sent its congratulations.