Brahimi brokers tentative holiday ceasefire in Syria
CAIRO - The Syrian government and a number of rebel leaders have agreed to a ceasefire during this week's Muslim Eid holiday, international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said in Cairo on Wednesday.
Syria's foreign ministry said however a final decision on Brahimi's proposal for a truce during the four-day Eid al-Adha holiday that begins on Friday had yet to be taken.
"The Syrian government has agreed to a ceasefire during the days of Eid," Brahimi said after meeting Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi.
He added that "most" rebel leaders contacted said they would observe a truce, but did not specify if this included commanders of the main rebel group, the Free Syrian Army.
"If we succeed with this modest initiative, a longer ceasefire can be built on it,"allowing the launch of a political process, Brahimi said.
According to the peace envoy, Syria's government would officially announce its acceptance by Thursday.
But the Syrian foreign ministry said a final decision on whether to observe a ceasefire during Eid would only be taken on Thursday.
"The army command is studying the cessation of military operations during the Eid holiday, and the final decision will be taken tomorrow," said a ministry statement issued in Damascus.
Brahimi's comments came as fighting raged across Syria on Wednesday, with the army launching air strikes in northern Syria and pressing a campaign to retake rebel-held areas east of Damascus.
At least 164 people were killed in violence across Syria on Tuesday, among them 89 civilians, 34 rebel fighters and 41 soldiers, according to the Observatory.
A ceasefire proposed by Braihimi's predecessor Kofi Annan as part of a six-point peace plan failed to take hold on April 12.