Violence has fallen in Syria as a fragile ceasefire takes hold, although both sides are reporting violations.
Syrian state TV said a roadside bomb in the city of Aleppo had killed one person and wounded 24.
The opposition said three people had been killed in Idlib and Hama and there was “no evidence” of a significant withdrawal by Syrian troops.
Special envoy Kofi Annan, who brokered the ceasefire, said he was “encouraged” but Syria had not fully complied.
“All parties have obligations to implement fully the six-point [peace] plan. This includes both the military provisions of the plan and the commitment to move to a political process,” Annan told the UN Security Council.
Anchor Marco Werman get the latest from the BBC’s Jim Muir in Beirut.
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Marco Werman: I am Marco Werman. This is The World. A single gunshot could derail the fragile ceasefire in Syria. That’s what United Nations Chief Ban Ki-moon said earlier today. The U.N. backed ceasefire went into effect early this morning. So far, it seems that Syrian government forces have mostly stopped their attacks though they haven’t withdrawn from all urban centers as demanded by the ceasefire plan. The man behind the plan, U.N. Envoy Kofi Annan, is now urging the quick deployment of international observers to Syria. The BBC’s Jim Muir is following the situation from Beirut and as far as you can tell, Jim, has the violence in Syria really stopped?
Jim Muir: Well, it certainly hasn’t stopped altogether but the general level has come down quite substantially. Activists are reporting up to 20 people killed by security forces in a variety of incidents, some involving shell fire, some involving shooting, sniping, including a mother and her very young baby daughter. Of course, the government also is reporting that a roadside bomb hit a military bus and killed a colonel and wounded 24 other people; so, accusations from both sides of breaches. The activists back theirs up with video on YouTube, and so on. Nobody I think expected this to be a total success and, of course, these infractions that are being reported show that it is very fragile. Above all, because government troops and tanks and heavy weaponry remain in population centers, that is an obvious source of friction that it looks like being one of the first targets for Kofi Annan and the U.N. to try and tackle to get compliance there so that the friction can be reduced.
Werman: Now the spokesman for the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jihad Makdissi, says the success of the Annan peace plan also depends on surrounding countries dropping their support for the Syrian opposition. Have you heard any reaction to the ceasefire in neighboring countries?
Muir: They have been pretty quiet about it. They are very skeptical. You’re talking about countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and also Qatar in the Arab camp who have been supporting the opposition. In many ways, they are hawks. They would possibly like this whole process to fail so that they can get on with backing the armed opposition and trying to bring the regime down because they’re a bit worried that the regime will survive all this and that it will be a kind of holding operation that will somehow allow the regime to cling on and then, perhaps, opposition will fade away. So, they haven’t said very much about all this.
Werman: I mean it’s a complex bunch of diplomatic choreography here. What’s next?
Muir: Well, I think what’s next is trying to consolidate the ceasefire and then trying to get some kind of political process going. That is going to be the real contest because the regime would like to feel that it has crushed resistance then it would go into any kind of negotiations from a position of strength. Then, it seems that the Russians have weighed in; they are the ones who have twisted the arms in Damascus and got agreement to the ceasefire and so on. If they go ahead and implement the ceasefire properly, in terms of Kofi Annan’s plan, that means pulling out of towns and cities with their security forces and stopping the repression. Well, a lot of people reckon that would allow large parts of the country to fall peacefully into the hands of the opposition and that would weaken the regime’s position. So, there’s gonna be a huge contest in which all the regional powers and international powers will be trying to make their weight felt in the eventual outcome.
Werman: Jim, thank you very much. We’ll leave it there.
Muir: You’re most welcome Marco.
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