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Middle east

Syria calm as fragile holiday truce declared

©

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-10-26

An uneasy calm descended on war-torn Syria on Friday, activists reported, as a fragile four-day truce came into effect. The Syrian regime and the Free Syrian Army rebels agreed to suspend fighting to coincide with the holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Syria was calm early Friday after the country's army and main rebel force said they had agreed to a ceasefire for the four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The watchdog group said that calm had settled following a night of heavy fighting across the country.

Syrian state television showed President Bashar al-Assad attending morning prayers for the start of Eid at a mosque in Damascus, smiling and seeming relaxed as he chatted with other worshippers.

The Observatory said fighting had taken place overnight around the country, including in the Damascus area, in Syria's commercial capital Aleppo and in the centre of the country near the border with Lebanon.

The ceasefire comes at the initiative of UN and Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. Both the regime and the main rebel force, the Free Syrian Army, have agreed to temporarily lay down their arms but reserved the right to respond to any aggression.

If the ceasefire holds, it would be the first real breakthrough in halting – even temporarily – the 19-month conflict that rights groups say has killed more than 35,000 people in Syria.

France 24’s Lucy Fielder in Beirut said the truce appeared to be holding, but would remain fragile.

“We have not received any reports yet from any of the activist groups saying that there has been any violence this morning,” Fielder said. “There was violence in several areas including Damascus overnight but it does seem to be calm now.”

“But both sides have expressed scepticism about this truce and both have said they will retaliate if attacked. So it does look sketchy, particularly because some of the more radical groups have said they will not abide by the ceasefire.”

(FRANCE 24 with wires)
 

Date created : 2012-10-26

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