Connect to share and comment

Syrian cease-fire during holy holiday gains traction with government, rebels

Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi says cease-fire would facilitate longer peace talks in Syria.

Lakhdar brahimi syria security councilEnlarge
Diplomat and former foreign minister of Algeria Lakhdar Brahimi speaks during a joint press conference with former US president Jimmy Carter following a meeting with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum on May 27, 2012. (ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)

A government representative for President Bashar al-Assad has expressed willingness to end hostilities during an approaching Muslim holiday, according to reports.

Jihad al-Makdisi, a spokesman, told the BBC that the Syrian armed forces would end hostilities during Eid al-Adha (Festival of the Sacrifice) as long as the rebels also respected the truce, BBC reported.

“If we want the initiative to succeed, it is not enough for only the Syrian [government] side to be bound by it,” he said. “But at the same time, I would say that calming down the situation is in the interest of the Syrian government because we support a political solution and dialog under this umbrella without preconditions.

"The purpose of [a cease-fire] is not calm itself, but transition to a political dialog between Syrians themselves.”

The four-day holiday begins in about a week, and rebels later told BBC they would also accept the cease-fire.

Both sides have agreed to peace initiatives in the past, only to quickly ignore them.

More from GlobalPost: Historic mosque damaged by Syrian shelling

The idea came from Lakhdar Brahimi, the international peace envoy who has replaced Kofi Annnan in a role working to end the bloody, 19-month civil war.

Brahimi called the holy holiday cease-fire a “microscopic” step towards wider peace negotiations, The Associated Press said.

“The Syrian people are burying hundreds of people each day, so if they bury fewer people during the days of the holiday, this could be the start of Syria’s return from the dangerous situation that it has slipped and is continuing to slip toward,” Brahimi told the AP.

Brahimi has met with international leaders on both sides of the war, which has killed more than 33,000 people, Reuters reported.

The Syrian government said earlier Wednesday that it welcomed Brahimi’s efforts, suggesting it was “armed groups and the countries that influence them” that thwarted previous efforts by Kofi Annan.

More from GlobalPost: Rebels losing civilian support in Aleppo

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/121017/syrian-cease-fire-holiday-eid-al-adha-festival-sacrifice