Syrian military studies Eid truce


Syria’s military command is studying a proposal for an Islamic holiday ceasefire with rebels - contradicting international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi's earlier announcement that Damascus had agreed to a truce.

The statement threw Mr Brahimi's efforts to arrange a pause in the bloodshed in Syria into even more confusion, as the rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad have given no indication they would be willing to sign up to it.

A previous ceasefire arrangement in April collapsed within days, with both sides accusing the other of breaking it.

Mr Brahimi, the joint UN-Arab League special envoy, had crisscrossed the Middle East to push the warring factions and their international backers to agree to a truce over the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

"After the visit I made to Damascus, there is agreement from the Syrian government for a ceasefire during the Eid," Mr Brahimi told a news conference in Cairo earlier.

Within an hour, Syria's Foreign Ministry said the proposal was still being studied by the armed forces' leadership. "The final position on this issue will be announced tomorrow," a ministry statement said.

The holiday starts on Thursday and lasts three or four days.

Mr Brahimi did not specify the precise time period for a truce. Nor did the initiative include plans for international observers.

Syrian warplanes carried out bombing raids today on the strategic northern town of Maarat al-Numan and nearby villages while rebels surrounded an army base to its east, an activist monitor said.

Five people from one family, including a child and a woman, were killed in the air strikes, according to Rami Abdelrahman, head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Maarat al-Numan has fallen to the rebels, effectively cutting the main north-south highway, a strategic route for Assad to move troops from the capital Damascus to Aleppo, Syria's largest city, where the insurgents have taken a foothold.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Syrian refugees have poured into a makeshift refugee camp at Atimah, overlooking the Turkish border, fleeing a week of what they said were the most intense army bombardments since the uprising began.


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