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Assad, Syria Require Rebels To Disarm Before Troop Withdrawal

Benjamin Gottlieb |
April 8, 2012 | 9:18 p.m. PDT

Executive Editor

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (Creative Commons).
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (Creative Commons).
Syria announced Sunday it would not halt military operations against insurgents in the country unless rebel leaders submitted written guarantees that they would forfeit their arms.

The statement, released by Syria's Foreign ministry, is the latest blow to a proposed ceasefire and United Nations-backed peace plan between embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the country's rebel forces.  

Free Syrian Army (FSA) chief Riad al-Assad -- no relation to President al-Assad -- told Reuters that if rebel groups are forces to lay down their arms prior to a ceasefire, the U.N.-brokered peace plan is doomed.

"We won't lay down our arms. The regime lies. Each day they say something and do something else," al-Assad told the Wall Street Journal. "More than 1,000 have died in these last two weeks. Each day the government brings their tanks and arrests the people."

With the violence intensifying in anticipation of the ceasefire, combatants on both sides are skeptical that the U.N. plan, brokered by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, will be upheld.

More from Reuters:

Opposition activists said dozens of people were killed and wounded on Sunday when President Bashar al-Assad's loyalists shelled a rebellious area near the border with Turkey.

U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, seeking to end a conflict that has killed more than 9,000 people in the past year, said the latest bloodshed violated the guarantees he had been given and urged Damascus to keep its promises.

The deal Annan brokered calls on Syria to begin the pullback of troops from around towns and cities by Tuesday and for a truce to start 48 hours later.

Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi criticized the U.N. plan as well on Sunday, stating that the international body had failed to hold the opposition accountable in the proposed peace deal.

He added that "Syria's commitment to the plan was misinterpreted," according to the Wall Street Journal.

More from the Wall Street Journal:

Nearly 130 civilians were killed across Syria on Saturday and an additional 34 were killed by Sunday afternoon local time, according to the Local Coordination Committee, an activist group.

The current deadline for the ceasefire is April 10. Failure to comply on either side would effectively annul the U.N. charted peace plan.



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