Syria Claims It Will End Military Operations Thursday Morning
The Syrian government says that it will cease military operations on Thursday. Annan’s spokesman Ahmed Fawzi said that he had received a letter from Syria’s Foreign Ministry that stated that the government agrees “to cease all military fighting throughout Syrian territory as of 6am (4am BST) tomorrow, Thursday, 12 April 2012, while reserving the right to respond proportionately to any attacks carried out by armed terrorist groups against civilians, government forces or public and private property.” Syrian state TV has also announced the same ceasefire, says the BBC.
Notably, the Syrian government’s announcement did not mention the ceasefire plan detailed in the six-point peace deal proposed by Kofi Annan, the special envoy to the United Nations and the Arab League. President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has already missed the April 10th deadline for a ceasefire that Annan’s plan called for, as well as a requirement to withdraw troops from population centers. In a reversal and (notes that BBC) an effective rejection of Annan’s timetable, Syria has also demanded that UN observers arrive in Syria prior to a ceasefire beginning.
Russian deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov said on Twitter that, as the Syrian government has announced a cease fire, it is now “up to the armed opposition.” China which, along with Russia, has twice vetoed United Nations Security Council resolutions to call for Assad to step down, called on the Syrian government to “respond” to Annan’s peace proposal and to ”fully implement the commitment of the ceasefire and withdrawal of troops.”
After meeting on Wednesday with Ali Akbar Salehi, the foreign minister of Iran — Syria’s powerful ally — Annan said that Iran can be “part of the solution.” Salehi said that he endorsed Annan’s plan, but that Syria must be “given time to implement reforms,” as Al Jazeera notes. Annan also said that he “received assurances” that the April 12 deadline will be honored by Syria.
Activists remain highly skeptical about the government ending military operations and reported that eleven people had been killed on Wednesday, with many in the central city of Homs, a center of the protests since the uprising began in March of 2011. Interviewed by the BBC on the Turkey-Syria border, Captain Ayham al-Kurdi, a spokesman for the FSA, said that he did not think the FSA’s “forces will stop shooting because the other side won’t stop.” He also said that “If the other side stopped, the Syrian people would march on the president’s palace on the same day. This means the regime won’t stop.”
After initially assenting to Annan’s plan, Assad’s regime demanded written guarantees that the armed opposition would end all violence. The FSA has responded that it does not recognize Assad’s government.
At least 9,000 people have died in Syria’s uprising and thousands more have been injured. The Syrian government contends that over 2,500 soliders and security personnel have been killed by what it says are “armed terrorist groups.”
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