International envoy Kofi Annan today said Syria has agreed to a ceasfire and pledged to begin withdrawing troops from populated areas, the Associated Press reported.
Annan's spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told Reuters that if the withdrawal is completed by April 10, government forces and opposition fighters will have 48 hours to institute the ceasefire.
Syria's UN representative Bashar Ja'fari said the April 10 date was established by "common accord," according to The Guardian, but Annan pushed for the withdrawal to begin without delay. US Ambassador Susan Rice said "that commitment was provided" to Annan, adding that he expected to hear from Assad's administration "very shortly" on the other parts of the six-point peace plan, said The Guardian.
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Rice said Annan on Sunday received a letter form Syria's foreign minister agreeing to the plan, which is aimed at ending ongoing violence in Syria, where rights groups say at least 9,000 people have been killed in a brutal government crackdown on yearlong anti-government unrest.
Annan, who serves as a joint special envoy of the United Nations and Arab League, informed the United Nations Security Council in a briefing today that the plan, which includes daily two-hour breaks in fighting for deliveries of humanitarian aid, had been accepted.
Rice, the security council's current president, cautioned that the United States would look for proof in "actions, not in the words," according to The Guardian.
"Past experience would lead us to be sceptical and to worry that over the next several days, rather than a diminution of the violence, we might yet again see an escalation of the violence," The Guardian quoted Rice as saying. "We certainly hope that is not so. We hope the Syrian authorities will implement the commitments they made without condition or codicils."
The US has played a leading role in the influential "Friends of Syria" group, which over the weekend recognized the Syrian National Council as the country's "legitimate representative," according to The Jordan Times.