News / Middle East

UN Envoy: Syria, Some Rebels Agree to Holiday Truce

Syria peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, behind podium at Arab League headquaraters in Cairo Oct. 24, 2012. Seen in the background from left are former president of Ireland Mary Robinson (R) and former US president Jimmy Carter (2nd L)
Syria peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, behind podium at Arab League headquaraters in Cairo Oct. 24, 2012. Seen in the background from left are former president of Ireland Mary Robinson (R) and former US president Jimmy Carter (2nd L)
Edward YeranianJessica Golloher
International envoy Lakhdar Brahimi says the Syrian government and some rebel groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad have agreed to a cease-fire during the Eid al-Adha holiday, which begins Thursday evening.
 
Brahimi made the cease-fire announcement in Cairo surrounded by retired world leaders and diplomats, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. The envoy appeared to weigh his words carefully, giving an encouraging outlook to an otherwise bleak situation.
 
The former Algerian diplomat and veteran negotiator said that small steps would be made to build on the cease-fire if it succeeds.
 
Later Wednesday, during a video briefing to the United Nations Security Council, Brahimi asked for strong council support, saying another failure of a truce attempt would lead to a worsening regionalization of the conflict.
 
Before the briefing, ambassadors from four of the council's permanent members, China, Russia, Britain and France, voiced support for the truce. Russia's Vitaly Churkin said he hopes it holds, but he added making that happen is very hard. The U.S. envoy, Susan Rice, did not stop to talk to reporters.
 
Brahimi has visited a number of Middle Eastern countries during the past several weeks in order to broker a truce.
 
Government decision due
 
Syrian government TV reported that Damascus would make a final decision Thursday on whether to respect a cease-fire.
 
The Syrian government announced several days ago that it would release prisoners who are “not terrorists,” in honor of the holiday.
 
Rebel Free Syrian Army commander Malek Kurdi told Arab satellite channels that his men would “observe the cease-fire, if the government does.”  He said, however, that the government “must release prisoners [as it has promised],” or the cease-fire will “fall apart.”
 
Hardline Syrian opposition leader Haithem Maleh said that rebel forces “are on the offensive, while the government is on the defensive,” so it is “important the government does not try to use the cease-fire to strengthen its position on the ground.”
 
Analysts doubt
 
Analyst Peter Harling of the International Crisis Group says that many attempts have been made before to arrange a cease-fire, but that none has worked out.
 
"Within the context of this crisis, virtually every kind of possible cease-fire has already been attempted," Harling said. "None of these concepts have worked out, given the fact that we're still in a conflict which is escalating gradually and in which both sides are convinced that they can win this militarily, although it will take time."
 
Harling added that a “significant change in the dynamics of the conflict must take place” for a cease-fire to work. He said a “huge amount of details” are required, so as to “contain breaches that can and will occur.”
 
Former U.N. spokesman Timor Goksel, who now teaches at the American University of Beirut, warns that a key hurdle in working out a cease-fire in Syria revolves around the decentralized command structure of the rebel fighters.
 
Goksel said that during his lengthy experience of Lebanon's civil war, cease-fires tend to unravel quickly. But he said they are very important for ordinary citizens caught in the crossfire.
 
"For the people in the street, something like this is fantastic, to put their lives in order, at least for three, four days and......but I'm not really sure about the parties involved," he said. "I don't know who makes their decisions for them. Really, it's very hard to say."
 
Russian claims
 
Meanwhile, Russia's top general says Syrian rebels have acquired portable surface-to-air missiles, including a model made in the United States.

Story continues below 
  • A crowd gathers in front of damaged buildings after a car bomb exploded at Daf al-Shok district, in Damascus, Syria, October 26, 2012, in this photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
  • A crowd gathers in front of damaged buildings after a car bomb exploded at Daf al-Shok district, in Damascus, Syria, October 26, 2012, in this photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
  • Demonstrators hold opposition flags during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, after Eid al-Adha prayers, Dara, Syria, October 26, 2012.
  • Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (C) chats with people after prayers for Eid al-Adha at al-Afram Mosque, Damascus, Syria, October 26, 2012.
  • Members of the Free Syrian Army watch for snipers during fighting against pro-government forces in Harem, Idlib, Syria, October 25, 2012.
  • Smoke is seen after pro-government forces shelled the outskirts of Atareb, in Idlib governorate, Syria, October 24, 2012.
  • A member of the Free Syrian Army stands guard during a shelling by pro-government forces on the outskirts of Atareb, in Idlib governorate, Syria, October 24, 2012.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter smokes a cigarette as he guards his position in Aleppo, Syria, October 23, 2012.
  • Residents are seen near damaged buildings at Marat al-Numan, near the northern province of Idlib, Syria, October 23, 2012.
  • Children play on swings in Aleppo, Syria, October 23, 2012.
  • Turkish boys look through a shattered window after an anti-aircraft shell fired from Syria hit a health center across the border in Reyhanli, Hatay province, Turkey, October 23, 2012.
  • A building that anti-government sources said was destroyed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces is seen in Saqba, Damascus, Syria, October 22, 2012.
Interfax news agency quotes General Nikolai Marakov as saying "that militants fighting Syrian government forces have portable missile launchers of various states, including American-made Stingers.”
 
He did not make any direct accusation of how the rebels acquired the weapons.
 
The U.S. Defense Department had no immediate comment. In the past, the U.S. government has denied supplying Syrian rebels with weapons or having any information that American-made weapons are in the hands of rebel forces.
 
Marakov’s comments were part of a back and forth between Moscow and Washington regarding the conflict in Syria.
 
Russia has blocked three attempts in the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions against its long-time ally, saying dialogue with both the opposition and the Syrian government is necessary for peace.
 
Yeranian reported from Cairo and Golloher from Moscow.

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Michael from: USA
October 24, 2012 9:37 AM
A cease-fire in Syria is a great mandate that could be built upon by later efforts toward peace

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid