Inside Syria, Activists Remain Resilient

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman. This is The World. The government of Syria is promising to comply with a looming ceasefire deadline. Today the government announced that all its military operations will stop by dawn tomorrow. That's when the ceasefire brokered by United Nations and Arab League Envoy, Kofi Annan, is supposed to go into effect. Annan says he's confident that rebel forces will also stop their operations and that the ceasefire will hold.

Kofi Annan: If everyone respects it, I think by 6:00 on Thursday, the 12th, 6:00 in the morning on Thursday, the 12th, we should see much improved situation on the ground.

Werman: That's Kofi Annan speaking to day in Iran. His optimism is countered by reports of more violence today in Syria and opposition activists say government forces have so far failed to pull back from major cities, as mandated by Annan's plan. Syrian activist, Omar Al-Khani is in Damascus.

Al-Khani: The Syrian capital today is full of check points. You can go to the main squares, you can go to the back streets and you can see there are people everywhere. In Douma- Damascus, tanks are still there. They didn't remove any tanks and there is a heavy machine gun unit.

Werman: You're at home. I hear children in the background. So you feel free to move about the city?

Al-Khani: No, actually after that, after the sun sets, you know, you can see the city's empty. Shops are closed, are empty. Nobody like doing normal life, and you can see like, there is a concern, there is a fear in the eyes, you know. This is not a city that I used to live for 20 years ago.

Werman: Things have changed there quite a bit?

Al-Khani: People are afraid, you know, from future. People want this regime to go. The weather in Damascus now is very good for a picnic and very good for like going around the city, but nobody's going, you know, around.

Werman: You know, the Assad government said today that they will stop the shelling in the cities and homes in Dara, ahead of tomorrow's ceasefire deadline. Do you have any hope that that will, in fact, be the case?

Al-Khani: Actually, no. The city's regime is lying for four years, so why I have to trust them today, you know, but this regime is trying whatever to stop this revolution by killing, by raping, by shelling cities, destroying the whole cities, the whole Homs now is destroyed.

Werman: Omar, you've told us your full name, Omar Al-Khani. You're part of this organization, the Syrian Revolution Coordinator's Union. You said President Assad must go. Isn't that rather dangerous for you at this point?

Al-Khani: I think now is time to make an act, you know, to stop hiding and to say that you are here, you know. People are dying and we have to stop it, you know. We have to do something and to sympathize with the revolution is not enough. You have to do an act to support these people who are asking their freedom.

Werman: Omar, thank you very much for speaking with us.

Al-Khani: Thank you very much.

Werman: Syrian activist, Omar Al-Khani, in Damascus.