News / Middle East

Syria Declares Eid Cease-Fire Through Monday

A rebel fighter retreats from government fire during clashes at the Moaskar front line, Aleppo, Syria, Oct. 24, 2012.
A rebel fighter retreats from government fire during clashes at the Moaskar front line, Aleppo, Syria, Oct. 24, 2012.
Edward YeranianLisa Schlein
The Syrian army says it will suspend military operations to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, declaring a cease-fire from Friday morning to Monday. The army added that it reserves the right to respond to rebel attacks and bombings. 
 
In an announcement read on state TV late Thursday, the Syrian military said it will act if "terrorist groups [are] trying to reinforce their positions by arming themselves and getting reinforcements."
 
It also warned neighboring countries against facilitating the smuggling of fighters across borders during that period.
 
A commander for the rebel Free Syrian Army said his fighters would commit to the truce, but would respond to any attacks.

Both sides have violated previous cease-fires after agreeing to them. However, an Islamist group active in Syria, Ansar al-Islam, is reported to have said that its fighters will not commit to the truce.

Timeline of Syria Uprising

March 2011: First protests erupt, dozens killed. Government announces reforms, then resigns.

April, May 2011: Protests intensify and spread, hundreds killed. U.S. imposes sanctions on top leaders.

August, September 2011: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain withdraw ambassadors. U.S. imposes economic sanctions, EU bans Syrian oil imports.

October 2011: Russia, China veto a U.N. resolution condemning Syria.

November 2011: The Arab League suspends Syria's membership.

January 2012: Government releases 5,000 prisoners. Death toll soars past 7,000.

February 2012: Russia, China veto a second U.N. resolution condemning crackdown.  

March 2012: Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan holds talks in Syria. U.N. says death toll exceeds 9,000. Syria agrees to U.N.-backed peace plan.

April 2012: Syria says it will abide by a cease-fire on April 12, but violence continues. U.N. observers arrive.

May 2012: Syria holds parliamentary elections, violence continues, U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan appeals to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stop the violence.

June 2012: Western nations expel Syrian diplomats, Annan urges increased pressure on Syria.

July 2012: Red Cross expands areas of Syria it says are in civil war. Violence increases across the country.

August 2012: A day after Syrian warplanes attacked the rebel-controlled northern town of Azaz and a bombing near the U.N. observer headquarters in Damascus, the U.N. Security Council decides to end the U.N. monitoring mission in Syria when its mandate expires on August 19. Annan steps down as U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria.

September 2012: Fighting intensifies in Aleppo and continues across the country. New U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi visits the country and meets with Assad.

October 2012:  Aleppo's historic souk burns as fighting rages in the city. The Syrian army says it will suspend military operations to mark the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, declaring a cease-fire during the holiday, but reserving the right to respond to rebel attacks and bombings.
UN hails cease-fire
 
In New York, United Nations spokesman Martin Nesirky said the world body welcomed the cease-fire.
 
"Obviously, the world is now watching to see what will happen on Friday morning," he said. "It’s in everybody’s interest, not least the long suffering Syrian people, that the guns fall silent tomorrow morning for the Eid holiday."
 
Rebel commanders in various cities told Arab satellite channels that they would respect the cease-fire if the government did.
 
But one Free Syrian Army officer said, however, that the cease-fire was contingent on the government's releasing prisoners and lifting the blockade of Homs.
 
More battles
 
The cease-fire announcement came after reports that the rebels had made significant advances in Syria's northern commercial hub of Aleppo. Government forces were reported to have pulled out of one Kurdish and two Christian districts inside the city.
 
The reports could not be confirmed and the Syrian government did not comment.
 
Syria scholar Joshua Landis, who heads the Center of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma and has been monitoring reports coming from Aleppo, said government forces appear mired in a fluid battle with rebels.
 
"The government has been flailing about in Aleppo for the last several weeks, bombing neighborhoods where it can't send men in," he said. "It doesn't have the manpower to overtake the city and by some estimates — pretty well-educated estimates — there are about 70,000 rebel troops in Aleppo and the regime just cannot hang on. They just don't have the manpower.”
 
Rebel commander Abdel Jaber al Okeidi told al Arabiya TV that the government had used field artillery throughout Thursday, across much of Aleppo. Other witnesses reported that heavy rains prevented government forces from bombing the city.
 
Government forces are reported to have remained in control of Aleppo's airport in the southeast of the city. But rebels appear to control a military airport to the west.
 
Elsewhere, amateur videos posted on the Internet showed Syrian government troops and tanks pulling out of parts of what appeared to be the southern city of Daraa. Heavy government shelling was also reported in the rebel stronghold of Harasta, outside Damascus.
 
UN rights demands
 
In Geneva, meanwhile, United Nations investigators said they have sent a letter to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, asking for a meeting regarding the deteriorating human rights situation in Syria.
 
It is the first time the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria has asked for a face-to-face meeting with the Syrian president. The Syrian government has refused to grant access to the commission during its previous fact-finding missions.
 
There was no immediate response from the Syrian government.
 
In previous probes, U.N. investigators have gathered information from eyewitness testimonies, human rights defenders, U.N. agencies and other organizations in neighboring countries.
 
Given the intensified fighting and worsening human rights situation in Syria, the commission chairman, Paulo Pinheiro, said he hopes that he and his colleagues can meet with Assad.
 
"We do not have a crystal," he said. "I do not know if he will accept us. But, it was our duty to have access."
 
An investigators' report presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council in August accused both the Syrian government and opposition forces of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
 
The report blames the highest levels of the government, as well as security and armed forces for committing atrocities including murder, torture, attacks against civilians and acts of sexual violence.
 
While the investigators say opposition forces also have committed war crimes, they say these violations and abuses are not of the same gravity, frequency and scale as those committed by the government and its allies.
 
The U.N. Human Rights Council extended the mandate of the commission at the end of September, increased the number of investigators to four, and provided more money and people to support its work.
 
As part of its investigation, the commission says it will determine which high-ranking Syrian political and military figures are responsible for crimes in Syria.
 
Investigators say it will be up to the U.N. Security Council to decide when and if the list should be made public.
 
A support team will be going to the Mideast in the coming weeks to lay the groundwork for the commission's fact-finding mission. The group plans to complete a report on its findings in January and submit it to the U.N. Human Rights Council in March.
 

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Secret Service Head: White House Security Lapse 'Unacceptable'

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
October 27, 2012 5:56 AM
The FSA should announce a date on the calendar for everyone in Syria to storm Assads palace, and once captured hold him 500% accountable for the crimes against humanity he has commited. It will end the war so fast and easily. Another Ghadaffi style ending.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid