The Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, Kofi Annan, today received a letter from the Syrian Government informing him of its decision “to cease all military fighting throughout Syrian territory as of 6:00 a.m. (Damascus time), Thursday, 12 April 2012,” Mr. Annan’s spokesperson said today.
The letter, from Syria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, added that the Syrian Government reserved “the right to respond proportionately to any attacks carried out by armed terrorist groups against civilians, Government forces or public and private property,” the spokesperson, Ahmad Fawzi, said in a statement issued in Geneva.
Last week, the Syrian Government told Mr. Annan that it would complete the withdrawal of troops by 10 April. The Envoy had previously stated that, once that happens, all parties should move immediately to cease all forms of violence, so that a complete cessation is in place by Thursday, 12 April.
The UN estimates that more than 8,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed, and tens of thousands have been displaced since protests in Syria – part of the broader Arab Spring movement across North Africa and the Middle East – began in March last year.
In his statement, Mr. Fawzi added that the Joint Special Envoy will continue to work with the Syrian Government and the opposition to ensure the comprehensive implementation of his six-point plan to end the violence.
“The Joint Special Envoy looks forward to the continued support of relevant countries in this regard.” Mr. Fawzi said.
Mr. Annan's proposal, which was submitted during his visit to Damascus last month, seeks to stop the violence and the killing, give access to humanitarian agencies, release detainees, and kick-start an inclusive political dialogue.
A UN team visited the country in recent days to start technical preparations for the potential deployment of observers to monitor a cessation of armed violence and the full implementation of Mr. Annan’s plan.
The Joint Special Envoy is expected to update the Security Council on Thursday.