Extremist Islamist group in Syria rejects truce

Middle East
by Wire Reports
Posted 10/24/12, 11:30 am

UPDATE: BEIRUT (AP)—An al-Qaeda-inspired Islamist group has rejected the short holiday cease-fire proposed by the international peace envoy to Syria.

The envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, said the government in Damascus and some rebel leaders agreed to a four-day truce during the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, which starts Friday.

In a statement posted on militant websites Wednesday, Jabhat al-Nusra, rejected the cease-fire, calling it a "filthy game" and saying it has no faith that President Bashar Assad's regime would respect the truce.

The Syrian government says it's studying the proposal.

So far all diplomatic efforts have failed to stop Syria's violence, which activists say has killed more than 34,000 people.

Both sides have agreed to earlier cease-fires only to thwart them with more attacks.

EARLIER REPORT: BEIRUT (AP)—The U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria said the government in Damascus and some rebel leaders have agreed to a temporary cease-fire during a four-day Muslim holiday that starts Friday.

The Syrian government, however, did not confirm Wednesday's announcement by Lakhdar Brahimi, saying only that it was still studying the envoy's proposal.

Brahimi told reporters in Cairo that President Bashar Assad's government has agreed to a truce for the Eid al-Adha holiday. Brahimi said Damascus will issue a statement on accepting the cease-fire later "today or tomorrow."

The announcement came as government forces intensified airstrikes on a rebel-held area near the besieged city of Aleppo. The fighting in Syria has killed more than 34,000 people since March last year, according to activists.

Brahimi did not elaborate on how the truce would be monitored. The envoy has met with Assad in Damascus on Sunday as part of his push for a cease-fire between rebels and government forces. He also held talks last week with opposition groups inside and outside Syria and earlier received "promises" but not a "commitment" from them to honor the cease-fire.

In Damascus, Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdessi stressed Wednesday that the cessation of military operations during Eid al-Adha is still "being studied" by the General Command of the Army and the Syrian armed forces, and that "the final position on this matter will be issued on Thursday."

Abdelbaset Sieda, the head of the Syrian National Council, the main opposition group in exile, told The Associated Press that he had little hope the truce would take hold. He said opposition fighters have told him they are willing to adhere to it, but will respond if attacked by regime forces.

© 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.