Syria agrees to ceasefire during Eid holiday: Brahimi

CAIRO Wed Oct 24, 2012 5:53am EDT

U.N.-Arab League peace envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (C) walks with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad (front R) and Mokhtar Lamani, Brahimi's representative in Syria (L), before his departure in Damascus October 23, 2012. Brahimi, who ended a four-day visit to Damascus on Tuesday, has pushed for a ceasefire to mark the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, which starts on Friday, hoping for a respite from daily death tolls of around 150. REUTERS/stringer

U.N.-Arab League peace envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (C) walks with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad (front R) and Mokhtar Lamani, Brahimi's representative in Syria (L), before his departure in Damascus October 23, 2012. Brahimi, who ended a four-day visit to Damascus on Tuesday, has pushed for a ceasefire to mark the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, which starts on Friday, hoping for a respite from daily death tolls of around 150.

Credit: Reuters/stringer

CAIRO (Reuters) - International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said on Wednesday the Syrian government has agreed to a ceasefire during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha and that Damascus would announce the decision shortly.

The holiday starts on Thursday and lasts three or four days. Brahimi, a mediator appointed by the United Nations and Arab League, said some Syrian opposition groups he had been in contact with had also agreed to a truce in principle.

"After the visit I made to Damascus, there is agreement from the Syrian government for a ceasefire during the Eid," Brahimi told a news conference at the Cairo-based League.

He did not give a precise time period for the ceasefire but said Damascus would announce its agreement on Wednesday or Thursday. "Other factions in Syria that we were able to contact, heads of fighting groups, most of them also agree on the principle of the ceasefire," he added.

President Bashar al-Assad is fighting an insurgency that grew out of street protests 19 months ago and has escalated into a civil war in which 30,000 people have been killed.

His overstretched army has lost swathes of territory and relies on air power to keep rebels at bay.

"If this humble initiative succeeds, we hope that we can build on it in order to discuss a longer and more effective ceasefire and this has to be part of a comprehensive political process," Brahimi said.

(Reporting by Shaimaa Fayed, Yasmine Saleh and Tom Perry; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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