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

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs