Photo: AslanMedia | Flickr
Bashar al-Assad’s government has agreed to a ceasefire in Syria during the four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, according to peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.Speaking in Cairo, Mr Brahimi said: “After the visit I made to Damascus, there is agreement from the Syrian government for a ceasefire during the Eid.”
The holiday starts on Thursday and lasts three or four days. Mr Brahimi, a mediator appointed by the United Nations and League, did not specify the precise time period.
President Assad is fighting an insurgency that grew out of street protests 19 months ago and has escalated into a civil war in which 30,000 people have been killed.
His overstretched army has lost swathes of territory and relies on air power to keep rebels at bay.
“If this humble initiative succeeds, we hope that we can build on it in order to discuss a longer and more effective ceasefire and this has to be part of a comprehensive political process,” he said.
Syria’s foreign ministry later said that a final decision about a ceasefire would be taken on Thursday.
“The army command is studying the cessation of military operations during the Eid holiday, and the final decision will be taken tomorrow,” a ministry statement said.
The reports of the ceasefire come as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that an air strike on a village in the northwest province of Idlib killed five members of the same family on Wednesday, including a woman and a child.
Syria’s army has also renewed efforts to retake rebel-held areas east of Damascus, according to the group.
“The army’s air strike on Maaret Shamirin is part of the regime’s attempt to bring the area of Maaret al-Numan under control,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman, whose group reported the five deaths in the village.
“The village is also very near the Wadi Deif army base,” he said.
Rebels seized control of Maaret al-Numan two weeks ago, since when Islamist fighters of Al-Nusra Front and Free Syrian Army rebels have besieged the nearby Wadi Deif base.
Maaret al-Numan is strategically located on the Damascus-Aleppo road. The army’s loss of the town and a section of highway has forced it to take a longer route via Hama province to supply troops in the north.
Russia’s top general meanwhile said Syrian rebels had acquired US-made shoulder-launched Stinger missile systems.
General Nikolai Makarov, Russia’s chief of staff, whose country is the Syrian regime’s top arms supplier and has refused to back the rebels, said it was not clear who had delivered the weapons.
“We have information that the rebels fighting the Syrian army have shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles of several states, including Stingers made in the United States,” he said quoted by the Interfax news agency.
“We need to still find out who has delivered them,” he said.
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