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

Conflicts Engulf Christians in Mideast

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Chinese Americans: Don’t Call Us 'Model Minority'

Label points to collective achievement, but some say it triggers resentment, unrealistic expectations More

Iran Bolsters Phone, Internet Surveillance

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Polish Ghetto

When the Nazi army moved into the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid