The Syrian defense ministry said that it will cease military operations against rebel fighters from Thursday after it has completed its mission to combat “armed terrorist groups,” state television reported on Wednesday.
Thursday is also the day set by peace envoy Kofi Annan as a deadline to halt hostilities carried out by the Syrian military against rebel areas across the country.
“After our armed forces completed successful operations in combating the criminal acts of the armed terrorist groups and enforced the state’s rule over its territory, it has been decided to stop these operations from Thursday morning,” the television quoted a ministry official it did not identify as saying.
Annan has also said that the Syrian government has given him a written pledge that it will halt all fighting by Thursday deadline, but with a caveat.
Syria told Annan that it will halt all fighting by the Thursday morning deadline but reserves the right to respond to any attack by “armed terrorist groups,” the peace envoy’s spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said on Wednesday.
In a letter the Syrian Foreign Ministry said Damascus agreed “to cease all military fighting throughout Syrian territory as of 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) tomorrow, Thursday, 12 April 2012, while reserving the right to respond proportionately to any attacks carried out by armed terrorist groups against civilians, government forces or public and private property,’” Fawzi said in a statement.
Annan, special envoy of the United Nations and Arab League, said he would continue to work with the Syrian government and opposition to ensure complete implementation of his six-point peace plan.
Meanwhile, Russia, one of Syria’s strongest allies, has said that the success of a Syrian army ceasefire depends on the opposition’s ability to honor the truce.
“Now it’s up to the armed opposition,” Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on Twitter. “Those are the conditions of the Annan plan.”, according to Alarabiya.