Syria army 'to observe ceasefire' over Eid al-Adha

 
Rebel fighters in Aleppo Fierce fighting has continued in Aleppo, where rebels were reported to have made gains

Syria's military says it will adhere to a four-day ceasefire to begin on Friday for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

The truce will begin at 0600 (0400GMT), reported Syrian TV, adding the army would retaliate against rebel attacks.

The truce was proposed by UN and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who hopes it will lead to a peace process.

The news came as rebels said they had advanced into several central areas in Aleppo, Syria's largest city and a key battleground in recent months.

Scepticism

Mr Brahimi has travelled across the Middle East over the past two weeks to promote his plan, and on Wednesday won the support of the UN Security Council.

SYRIA CEASEFIRE ATTEMPTS

  • Arab League: Observers deployed in late December to oversee compliance with a peace plan that included an end to violence, the withdrawal of troops from the streets and the release of political prisoners. But the monitoring mission was suspended after little more than a month as fighting continued.
  • Kofi Annan: Six-point plan for Syria included the withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons from urban areas, and an open-ended ceasefire that was meant to take effect on 12 April and lead to peace talks. But neither side fully adhered to the plan and violence continued to escalate.
  • Lakhdar Brahimi: New UN-Arab League envoy toured the Middle East in October, seeking support for a ceasefire over the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which starts on 26 October. The ceasefire, backed by the UN Security Council, is designed to kick-start political reconciliation.

He also said most opposition groups would back the truce, though some rebels have expressed scepticism about the chances of a ceasefire working.

On Thursday, a statement from the Syrian armed forces carried by state media said: "Military operations will cease across the entire Syrian territory as of 06:00 (03:00GMT) on 26 October until 29 October.

"Syrian armed forces will, however, reserve the right to reply to terrorists attacks, attempts of armed groups to reinforce or resupply, or attempts to infiltrate from neighbouring countries."

Qassem Saadeddine, a spokesman for the joint command of the Free Syrian Army, the main armed rebel group, said his fighters would back the truce.

"But we will not allow the regime to reinforce its posts," he told Reuters news agency.

'War crimes'

Start Quote

Civil wars have a trajectory: anger and energy at the beginning, mounting bloodshed and exhaustion at the end as the losses mount ”

End Quote Paul Wood BBC Middle East correspondent

Previous attempts at ceasefires in Syria have collapsed, and the violence has continued to escalate.

The US welcomed the ceasefire, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he hoped it would lead to political negotiations.

The uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's government started in March 2011.

Activists say more than 35,000 people have been killed since then, while the UN estimates that at least 20,000 have died.

Analysis

The apparent withdrawal of Syrian forces from key Christian and Kurdish neighbourhoods in Aleppo may be a sign that the government is coming to accept that it cannot hold the centre of the city. It is not, however, a fatal blow to its hold on Aleppo. It may even be a tactical retreat, potentially drawing rebel fighters into a trap. But it may be a concession that supply lines to its forces in the centre of Aleppo have increasingly been cut off by the rebels.

That would leave Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with a dilemma. His government's tactic in recent months has been to bomb and shell areas held by the rebels - with military helicopters and fighter jets being used. This firepower far exceeds what the rebels possess, for now.

But if the government now uses such force against the areas of Ashrafiyeh and al-Seryan, it would be a risky strategy as they contain mainly Christians and Kurds - who have not yet thrown in their lot with the rebels. The alternative, though, might mean giving up on Aleppo altogether - a defeat the government would have deemed unthinkable six months ago.

In Aleppo on Thursday, eyewitnesses and activists said government forces had moved away from military posts in the Christian district of al-Seryan and the neighbouring Kurdish area of Ashrafiyeh.

Rebel fighters had reportedly moved in, although there were also reports of continuing fighting.

"The centre of the city is right now in the hands of the Free Syrian Army," an activist going by the name of Marwan told the BBC World Service.

He said the rebels had placed snipers on rooftops to try to prevent government troops retaking the area.

A rebel spokesman was quoted as saying opposition fighters had also taken the south-western neighbourhoods of Salah al-Din and Suleiman a-Halabi.

Meanwhile in Geneva, an expanded team of UN human rights investigators said it had sought a meeting with Mr Assad.

Carla del Ponte, a former UN prosecutor who led the case against former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic and recently joined the Syria commission, said she saw parallels with her earlier work.

"The similarity of both is that we are handling the same crimes: crimes against humanity and war crimes, for sure," she said.

"My main task will be to continue the inquiry in the direction of determining the high-ranking political and military authorities responsible for these crimes."

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 154.

    Are not the UN and AL attempting to use 'human god practices' (general organising determinant) to stop, if briefly, the human practice of using death to obtain power? Stuff all to do with Islam, the BBC or rating gamers. This looks like a Balkans replay.... "death to everyone else!"

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 153.

    @philips smeeton What ever you think about Islam is your problem. No offence to any religion but truth is, Islam is the perfect religion and cover every aspects of life. If some one killing or doing bad deeds in name of Allah then it's his fault, you can't blame Islam. Last thing, you can't spread any religion by force.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 152.

    Peace and the will of Allah be upon the people of Syria

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 151.

    Peace should be permanent and unconditional. The internal war is devastating and negative. Many innocent lives have been martyred in this senseless gory tug-of-war. Even tiny-tots and women have been massacred in the long drawn violence. Asad must quit.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 150.

    There can be no peace, if there are still Salafists in country attempting to further carry out acts of subversion and terrorism within Syrias major cities, these people will not stop until Assad is overthrown or dead.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 149.

    If the Syrian army does hold to it's promise, will the rebels ? Many of whom are not Syrian, the most powerful being linked to Al Qaeda or Salafist groups. This is a war with undertones that Libya is only now starting to face.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 148.

    147. magentaobscura

    I came to see this report, but must admit the closure of the Economics blogs is very strange & rapid.

  • Comment number 147.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 146.

    I hope for all you brothers that you show restraint. The war has gone long enough. The brutal killings, executions, murders, must stop. I wish you all eid Mubarak, our prophet gave a huge sacrifice on this day, maybe you could too by stopping fighting. Just look at your country it's probably gone back a decade, it is your children who will suffer. SO PLEASE STOP THIS. Not just eid but forever.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 145.

    No doubt another scam by the regime to regroup their troops.

    probably some lefitist bbc mod will remove this for being off topic even thou it's relevant as my comments on other blogs were apparently not relevant or OFFF TOPIC

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 144.

    @Final addition to 136

    In the end, those leaders do begin to lose their minds whether they wished for it or not.

    Both Saddam Hussein as well as Bashar Al Assad (+ his father) were good to start with, until they succumbed to paranoia when they came under the impression foreigners were planting instability using certain ethnic groups to sow discord. (Although I am starting to think its true)

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 143.

    Personally, I find this whole situation Syriasly boring, but on another note, the amount of Islamaphobia going on these posts is just incredible. It seems British people are just taken in by all this pro-Judaism bias and take any excuse possible to defame the Arabs to disgusting lengths. These are the same people who refuse to condemn evil centuries-long British colonialism.

  • Comment number 142.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 141.

    49
    Joseph_F

    Why do you and so many others on this HYS assume this is a religious war? Blown away by the ignorance of some of these posters. We're talking about a dictator who is violently and desperately trying to cling onto power, agreeing (tentatively after all else failed) to a ceasefire on a religious holiday and yet some ill-informed posters are making quips about this being a religious war

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 140.

    This is a waiting game. Waiting for the US election to be finished.

    Obama doesn't want another war right now. That'll cost votes. But whichever guy gets in, they'll be plotting how to get hold of that Syrian oil, and no doubt we'll go along for 'solidarity' and a large military bill. We'll be involved before xmas. Sadly.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 139.

    17.
    60shadesofgrey

    You mean like in the Frist World War, where a Christmas truce was invoked - to sides even played a football match - before back to killing in the next day?

    In any case you have grossly missunderstood the importance of having even a single day of ceasefire

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 138.

    I'm just wondering when the one-sided, partisan and in some instances, delusional BBC reporting/editing is going to stop. Do you remember when the BBC had great war correspondents who reported the facts? Now we seem to have a procession of BBC 'reporters' spouting the party line, and those that stray, god forbid and report all is not as portrayed are soon moved. Grow some 'nads BBC.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 137.

    @134

    Given that the conflict is sectarian mostly, moreover that what I said is true, Mr Assad is positioned in a corner with no exit literally. He may not know what will be done of him, his family, the Alawites among others. I also think its been the same for most dictators (except perhaps Hitler, for his was outright a plan of racist proportions). What may have caused him to remain is such.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 136.

    @Adding to 133

    Some leaders originally have altruistic good intentions, good policies, etcetera for their people. Later on, they could succumb to anything. Whether it be paranoia, failing health, human nature, or a hidden group with ulterior motives putting pressure on them, these people will not tell us anything until it is discovered post mortem. (More coming later)

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 135.

    "Syria army 'to observe ceasefire' over Eid al-Adha."

    Given their track record on ceasefires so far, I'm inclined to append "though gunsights." to the end of that quote.

 

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