Damascus agrees to 4-day Eid ceasefire across Syria, starting Friday
Damascus announced it has agreed to a four-day ceasefire across Syria for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, the ‘Feast of Sacrifice.’ The truce will begin on Friday.
“We hope that they both realize the importance of a pause in the fighting… in the symbolic quieting, the silence of the guns,” UN deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said after a closed-door meeting of the 15-nation Security Council.
Eliasson confirmed that the temporary truce could “create a political environment, where political talks are possible.”
The ceasefire came after UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi visited Syria earlier this week, and is one of the first real breakthroughs in halting violence in the war-torn country so far.
Brahimi proposed that both sides lay down their arms for the Islamic holiday celebrated by most of the world’s Muslims, which begins on Friday.
Syrian army command agreed to suspend military operations, but insisted on the right to retaliate against any rebel attacks.
During this period, it said, it would also respond to attempts to smuggle in arms from neighboring countries, and against any rebel group attempting to reinforce. The army also said it would prevent “terrorists” from crossing its borders.
The Free Syrian Army commander responded that the rebels would commit to the truce, on the condition that prisoners be released on Friday.
A spokesperson for the Islamist group Ansar al-Islam said that their fighters would not commit to the ceasefire, and expressed doubts that the Syrian Army would honor it.