Syrian military, rebels agree to abide by U.N.-sanctioned cease-fire
Prospects of the Syrian cease-fire taking hold are dim, given President Bashar Assad's history of broken promises and the rebel momentum in Aleppo, Syria's largest city.
BEIRUT — The Syrian military said Thursday that it would abide by a United Nations-sponsored cease-fire during the four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, the first such agreement since April.
The cease-fire was scheduled to begin Friday morning and last until Monday. Some rebel groups also said they'd adhere to the cease-fire, negotiated by Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.'s special envoy to Syria.
The United States and Turkey, which back the rebels, and Iran, which supports the government of President Bashar Assad, had called for both sides to obey the cease-fire.
Prospects of the cease-fire taking hold are dim, given Assad's history of broken promises and the rebel momentum in Aleppo, Syria's largest city, where fighters said they advanced into several government-held neighborhoods.
Opponents of the Syrian government said they were suspicious of its announcement but welcomed any potential respite from the fighting that has more than tripled in intensity since the last cease-fire, which was never fully implemented.
More than 30,000 people have been killed in 19 months of violence, and hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes.
The truce plan remained vague late Thursday. It wasn't clear when exactly it was supposed to begin, there were no arrangements for monitoring compliance and Brahimi never said what would happen after four days.
The government's acceptance of the cease-fire included caveats. The government said it reserved the right to respond to rebel attacks and to stop people from crossing the borders.
It also said it would strike to prevent rebels from reinforcing positions.
Some rebel groups agreed only conditionally to the cease-fire, demanding the release of prisoners held by the government and the ability to deliver humanitarian aid.
"It's a longshot," Beirut-based analyst Paul Salem said of the cease-fire. "We are completely in war mode, at least for the next many months."
Material from The Associated Press is included in this report.