USA TODAY US Edition
-Syria’s Assad says attacks will halt,
Opposition says regime must go
BEIRUT — Syria promised to comply with a U.n.-brokered cease-fire beginning today but said it retains the right to defend itself against terrorists, a condition that rebels say is a way for President Bashar Assad to keep killing civilian opponents to his regime.
“Peace will never come to this country before this regime is overthrown,” said Bassam Imadi, a member of the opposition Syrian National Council.
Imadi said Wednesday he had no faith in the peace initiative of special envoy Kofi Annan to stop the bloodshed. “The regime is using all these breaks, those initiatives, those diplomatic and political solutions only to try and finish the uprising,” he said.
The U.N. estimates Assad’s forces have killed 9,000 people in its attempt to put down an uprising that consisted mostly of peaceful demonstrations for democratic reforms.
Syria’s state-run news agency said Wednesday that the army is successfully fighting off “armed terrorist groups” and reasserting state authority. Sana news said the “missions” will cease, except for operations to “repulse any aggression carried out by the armed terrorist groups against civilians or troops.”