Conflict & Justice

Syria government denies agreeing to ceasefire for Eid al-Adha


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad


Franck Fife

The Syrian government agreed Wednesday to a temporary ceasefire for the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, according to Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN and Arab league envoy to Syria.

Brahimi told reporters in Cairo on Wednesday that he was given the news following a visit to Damascus, and that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will issue a statement on accepting a truce today or tomorrow, Fox News reported

However, Syria contradicted Brahimi's statement, claiming that its military command was still looking over the proposal for a ceasefire with the rebels, the Associated Press reported.

Diplomats maintained on Wednesday that Brahimi remains cautiously optimistic about the truce plans, and expects an answer from the Syrian government on Thursday regarding its decision.

The ceasefire plan was dealt another blow on Wednesday when the Al Qaeda-style militant group Jabhat al-Nusra rejected the truce.

"There will be no truce between us and the prideful regime and shedder of the blood of Muslims," the group said in a statement. "We are not among those who allow the wily to trick us, nor are we ones who will accept to play these filthy games."

Eid al-Adha begins Friday and will last four days, during which Brahimi is hopeful a political process will develop, BBC News reported.

A previous ceasefire in April fell apart quickly. Both sides claimed the other was responsible for breaking the agreement.  

According to BBC, the Syrian opposition agreed to any ceasefire observed by the government forces. Gen Mustafa al-Sheikh, head of the rebel Free Syrian Army's military council, said the group would reciprocate the any ceasefire agreed upon by the government, however he warned that Syria's government had "lied many times before".

"It is impossible that the regime will implement the truce, even if it says it will," he told the AFP news agency.

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On Tuesday, at least 20 people were killed and over 50 injured in Syria's largest city of Aleppo when a bakery in the rebel-held neighborhood of Masaken Hanana was hit by shelling from a government tank. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, hospitals in the neighborhood were so overwhelmed by the sheer volume of victims that activists had to call for local doctors to assist at the scene of the attack. The bakery was the only one operating in Masaken Hanan, and about 100 people were lined up for food.

Graphic footage on YouTube shows the aftermath of the attack. The content of the video could not be independently confirmed, but the video shows pita bread scattered on the floor along with mangled bodies and screaming rescue workers hauling the dead to trucks and taxis.  

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After the attack on the bakery, Syrian activists said they believed a ceasefire would be incredibly unlikely; citing former UN envoy Kofi Annan's inability to broker a similar deal, the New York Times reported.  

More than 33,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising started in March last year, according to activists.