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

Sunni-Shi’ite Divide Threatens Middle East Stability

Analysts say ancient dispute that traces back to Islamic Revolution is fueling modern day unrest More

Shifting Demographics Lie Beneath Racial Tensions in Ferguson

As Missouri suburb morphed from majority white to majority black, observers say power structure remained static More

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Restriction is toughest since Soviet era, though critics reject move as patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid