Syria's Planned Weekend Ceasefire In Doubt

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 24 2012 3:13 PM

So Much For This Weekend's Holiday Ceasefire in Syria

A general view shows the heavily destroyed Bab Amro neighbourhood of Homs on May 2, 2012

Photo by Joseph Eid/AFP/GettyImages.

Today began with a rare bit of good news from civil war-torn Syria, with UN peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi announcing that that the Assad regime and opposition forces had agreed to a ceasefire during this weekend’s Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha. By this afternoon, however, the latest reports suggest that Syria’s foreign ministry is still studying the proposal and hasn't made a final decision just yet. Given recent history, that means international observers and opposition forces aren't exactly holding their breaths.

Here's Reuters with the latest:

The [ministry's] statement threw Brahimi's efforts to arrange a pause in the bloodshed in Syria into even more confusion, as divided rebel groups fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad gave mixed messages....
Brahimi, the joint U.N.-Arab League special envoy, had crisscrossed the Middle East to push the warring factions and their international backers to agree to a truce during the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha— a mission that included talks with Assad in Damascus at the weekend.

It remains unclear whether the government's delay will mean an end to the prospects of the holiday ceasefire, although it is starting to look that way. The al-Nusra Front, an Islamist group that says it has carried out several high-profile bomb attacks, said it would not be tricked into playing "filthy games." The main armed rebel group, the Free Syrian Army, meanwhile, took a slightly more measured stance, saying it would reciprocate any ceasefire observed by the government but nonetheless expressing serious doubt that Assad would ultimately sign on to the deal.

A previous ceasefire arranged last April between the government and opposition forces collapsed within days after both sides accused each other of breaking it.


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