Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accepts holiday ceasefire, envoy says

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 October, 2012, 4:45am

The UN-Arab League mediator for the Syrian conflict, Lakhdar Brahimi, told the UN Security Council yesterday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has accepted a holiday ceasefire, although a final announcement was expected to come later.

"President accepted, statement to be issued tomorrow," a diplomat present at a closed-door briefing said Brahimi told the 15-nation council via a video link.

Brahimi was expanding on remarks he made earlier to reporters in Cairo. After Brahimi spoke, the Syrian government appeared to contradict him, saying that its military command was still studying a proposal for a holiday ceasefire with rebels.

On the way into the council meeting, Russian UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said Moscow hoped Brahimi's plan for a ceasefire during the Muslim holiday of Eid ul-Adha would be successful.

Chinese ambassador, Li Baodong, echoed Churkin's remarks.

"We support a truce and we support Mr Brahimi's effort," Li said. "I think it's important for all parties to understand the importance of peace and stability.

"If there is one per cent chance [of a ceasefire] then I think we should make 100 per cent effort to make that happen."

Abdelbaset Sieda, the head of the Syrian National Council, the main opposition group in exile, said he had little hope the truce would take hold.

He said opposition fighters had told him they were willing to adhere to it, but would respond if attacked by regime forces.

"This regime, we don't trust it, because it is saying something and doing something else on the ground," Sieda said in a telephone interview from Stockholm, Sweden.

Additional reporting by Associated Press