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Will It Hold? Assad Regime Says It Agrees To Truce; Rebels Are Skeptical

A message has appeared on the website of Syria's SANA news agency saying that the country's armed forces will halt military operations for four days, starting tomorrow.

On its face, that would appear to be acceptance of U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi's plan for a truce during the Eid al-Adh holiday that Muslims begin observing on Friday.

But the BBC reports that "the military said it would respond to 'terrorist groups trying to reinforce their positions' and to any fighters crossing from neighboring countries."

As CNN says, President Bashar Assad's regime seems to have agreed to a ceasefire — "with some caveats."

What's more, Reuters has moved a series of bulletins about the reactions of the opposition groups that have been battling the regime since early 2011. It writes that:

"A Free Syrian Army commander said on Thursday rebels will honor a ceasefire to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha but demanded the release of detainees by Friday. However, the spokesman of Islamist Ansar al-Islam, Abu Moaz, said his fighters will not commit to the ceasefire brokered by U.N.-Arab mediator Lakhdar Brahimi. Abu Moaz also said the fighters doubt the government will honor the truce."

As we said Wednesday, "earlier ceasefire deals have quickly fallen apart in Syria this year."

Update at 1:20 p.m. ET. State Department Reaction:

"What we are hoping and expecting is that that they won't just talk the talk of ceasefire but they will walk the walk — beginning with the regime," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters a short time ago.

"We will be watching very closely," she added.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.