Skepticism after assad’s announcement of a ceasefire

Skepticism after Assad's announcement of a ceasefire

Across the country, 23 people have been killed by the regime’s forces, including two mentally disabled brothers, it said. Tanks belonging to government forces had shelled residential neighborhoods in the rebel strongholds of Homs and Daraa.

The Syrian regime had agreed to a ceasefire on Monday nearly 13 months after protests against President Bashar al-Assad began. The so-called revolutionary committees then declared that they had decided, together with the Free Syrian Army, that the deserters would also lay down their arms if the regime actually stopped its attacks and ordered the troops back to the barracks. They also demanded that political prisoners be released. Journalists should be allowed to move freely.

The United Nations planned to send some 150 to 200 observers to Syria to monitor the cease-fire, a Western diplomat in Baghdad said. According to UN figures, more than 9,000 people have died in the conflict so far.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle (FDP) urged the Syrian regime to keep its pledge to UN special envoy Kofi Annan. "Any further delaying tactics are unacceptable," Westerwelle said, according to the German Foreign Ministry.

Russia, one of Syria’s last allies, welcomed the ceasefire. Moscow is satisfied that Damascus is taking the first step as requested, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Tuesday, according to the Itar-Tass agency.

Syrian opposition reacted to cease-fire announcement with great suspicion. A spokesman for the revolutionaries said Assad’s refusal to implement the cease-fire for another week indicated new deceptions on the part of the regime. "Yet another new deadline," was the tenor in the discussion forums of the so-called revolutionary committees.

The announcement of a cease-fire by the regime was also met with skepticism internationally. The UN ambassadors of the USA and Germany warned in New York on Monday against too much euphoria. Special envoy Kofi Annan had earlier told the Security Council that the leadership in Damascus had agreed to a cease-fire from 10. April had agreed to. However, the Syrian government lacks a sense of urgency, Annan also conceded. There are also still differences on how to monitor the ceasefire, he said.

The Assad regime had recently come under pressure from all sides. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had stressed that the Syrian government was obliged to "take the first step" and withdraw the army from the cities. Observers assume that pressure from Russia has persuaded Assad to give in. Meanwhile, Syrian media reported that a team sent by Annan is expected in Damascus this Wednesday to discuss the details of the observer mission to monitor the ceasefire.

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