Syrian government, rebels agree to holiday truce

Head of main opposition group in exile said he has little hope for the ceasefire

Topics: Middle East, Syria, Civil War, Bashar al-Assad, Free Syrian Army,

BEIRUT (AP) — The Syrian government and some rebel leaders have agreed to a ceasefire during an upcoming four-day Muslim holiday, the U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria announced Wednesday.

Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters in Cairo that President Bashar Assad’s government has agreed to a truce during the Eid al-Adha holiday, which begins Friday. Brahimi said Damascus will issue a statement on accepting the truce for the holiday later “today or tomorrow.”

Brahimi’s announcement came as government forces intensified airstrikes on rebel-held area near the besieged city of Aleppo. The fighting in Syria has killed more than 34,000 people since March last year, according to activists.

Brahimi didn’t elaborate on how such a truce would be monitored. The envoy has met with Assad in Damascus on Sunday as part of his push for a cease-fire between rebels and government forces. He also held talks last week with opposition groups inside and outside Syria and earlier received “promises” but not a “commitment” from them to honor the cease-fire.

In Damascus, Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdessi stressed Wednesday that the cessation of military operations during Eid al-Adha is still “being studied” by the General Command of the Army and the Syrian armed forces, and that “the final position on this matter will be issued on Thursday.”

Abdelbaset Sieda, the head of the Syrian National Council, the main opposition group in exile, told The Associated Press that he had little hope the truce would take hold. He said opposition fighters have told him they are willing to adhere to it, but will respond if attacked by regime forces.

“This regime, we don’t trust it, because it is saying something and doing something else on the ground,” Sieda said Wednesday in a phone interview from Stockholm, Sweden.

Brahimi’s proposal is far more modest than a six-point plan by his predecessor as Syrian envoy, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. A cease-fire was the centerpiece of Annan’s proposal and was to lead to talks on a peaceful transition.

You Might Also Like

However, a truce never took hold and both sides violated their commitments, though Annan said at the time the regime was the main aggressor because it refused to withdraw troops and heavy weapons from population centers.

In Syria, regime warplanes struck the village of Mar Shureen near a strategic rebel-held town in the country’s north Wednesday, killing five members of an extended family, activists said.

The village is located just outside the town of Maaret al-Numan, about a mile (1.5 kilometer) from a Syrian military camp that troops and rebels have been fighting over for several days.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, the director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told The AP that government aircraft hit the village in the morning hours. The dead include a father and his two sons, aged 10 and 24, as well as a two other relatives, a woman and a young man, Abdul-Rahman said. His group relies on reports from a network of activists on the ground.

Opposition fighters seized Maaret al-Numan, which lies along the main highway between Aleppo and Damascus, earlier this month, disrupting the ability of Assad’s army to send supplies and reinforcements to the northwest where troops are bogged down in a stalemate with the rebels in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city.

Associated Press writers Maggie Fick in Cairo, Karin Laub in Beirut and Albert Aji in Damascus contributed to this report.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    DAYA  
    Young Daya has yet to become entirely jaded, but she has the character's trademark skeptical pout down pat. And with a piece-of-work mother like Aleida -- who oscillates between jealousy and scorn for her creatively gifted daughter, chucking out the artwork she brings home from summer camp -- who can blame her?

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    MORELLO   
    With her marriage to prison penpal Vince Muccio, Lorna finally got to wear the white veil she has fantasized about since childhood (even if it was made of toilet paper).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CINDY   
    Cindy's embrace of Judaism makes sense when we see her childhood, lived under the fist of a terrifying father who preached a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity. As she put it: "I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell."

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CAPUTO   
    Joey Caputo has always tried to be a good guy, whether it's offering to fight a disabled wrestler at a high school wrestling event or giving up his musical ambitions to raise another man's child. But trying to be a nice guy never exactly worked out for him -- which might explain why he decides to take the selfish route in the Season 3 finale.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    BOO   
    In one of the season's more moving flashbacks, we see a young Boo -- who rejected the traditional trappings of femininity from a young age -- clashing with her mother over what to wear. Later, she makes the decision not to visit her mother on her deathbed if it means pretending to be something she's not. As she puts it, "I refuse to be invisible, Daddy. Not for you, not for Mom, not for anybody.”

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    SOSO
    We still don't know what landed Brooke Soso in the slammer, but a late-season flashback suggests that some seriously overbearing parenting may have been the impetus for her downward spiral.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    POUSSEY
    We already know a little about Poussey's relationship with her military father, but this season we saw a softer side of the spunky fan-favorite, who still pines for the loving mom that she lost too young.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    PENNSATUCKY
    Pennsatucky had something of a redemption arc this season, and glimpses of her childhood only serve to increase viewer sympathy for the character, whose mother forced her to chug Mountain Dew outside the Social Security Administration office and stripped her of her sexual agency before she was even old enough to comprehend it.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CHANG
    This season, we got an intense look at the teenage life of one of Litchfield's most isolated and underexplored inmates. Rebuffed and scorned by her suitor at an arranged marriage, the young Chinese immigrant stored up a grudge, and ultimately exacted a merciless revenge.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    HEALY
    It's difficult to sympathize with the racist, misogynist CO Sam Healy, but the snippets we get of his childhood -- raised by a mentally ill mother, vomited on by a homeless man he mistakes for Jesus when he runs to the church for help -- certainly help us understand him better.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NORMA
    This season, we learned a lot about one of Litchfield's biggest enigmas, as we saw the roots of Norma's silence (a childhood stutter) and the reason for her incarceration (killing the oppressive cult leader she followed for decades).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NICKI
    While Nicki's mother certainly isn't entirely to blame for her daughter's struggles with addiction, an early childhood flashback -- of an adorable young Nicki being rebuffed on Mother's Day -- certainly helps us understand the roots of Nicki's scarred psyche.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>