Syrian Rebels Refuse to Give Regime 'Written Guarantees' on Ceasefireإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Syria said Sunday it will not withdraw its forces from protest hubs without "written guarantees" that the opposition will also lay down its arms, a demand swiftly rejected by rebels, who said they will not give guarantees to a regime they do not recognize.
"To say that Syria will pull back its forces from towns on April 10 is inaccurate, with (U.N.-Arab League envoy) Kofi Annan having not yet presented written guarantees on the acceptance by armed terrorist groups of a halt to all violence," the Syrian foreign minister said in a statement.
"Mr. Annan has not submitted written guarantees from the governments of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey on stopping their funding to terrorist groups," the ministry added.
But Riad al-Asaad, commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army, refused the regime's demand for a "written guarantee" to end the fighting
Al-Asaad said that his group does not recognize President Bashar Assad's regime and for that reason they will not give guarantees.
He told The Associated Press by telephone from Turkey that if the regime abided by Annan's six-point plan to end the violence, his group would cease fire.
Al-Asaad also said the government should withdraw its forces to bases and remove checkpoints from streets.
Later on Sunday, al-Asaad told Agence France Presse his fighters will respect Annan's six-point plan.
"We are committed to the Annan plan," al-Asaad told AFP in Beirut by telephone.
"We will present our guarantees and our commitments to the international community, but not to this (Syrian) regime," the FSA chief added.
On Thursday the U.N. Security Council formally endorsed April 10 as the deadline for Syrian troops and big guns to be withdrawn from cities, but Damascus said on Friday the number of "terrorist acts" has risen since the deal was reached with Annan.
His six-part peace plan foresees the withdrawal of the Syrian army from the cities on Tuesday, with a complete end to fighting 48 hours later.
"Syria is not going to repeat what happened in the presence of Arab observers when armed forces left towns," the ministry statement said.
"Armed terrorist groups reorganized and rearmed to control entire neighborhoods, committing every possible terrorist act, killing and kidnapping people and destroying public and private property."
It said that during his meeting in Damascus with President Bashar Assad, "Annan said his mission was based on respect for Syrian sovereignty."
"He said he would work to stop the violence, disarm armed groups... initiate a comprehensive national dialogue with opposition movements in Syria," the ministry said, adding that "it is this principle on which Syria accepted Annan's mission and his six-point plan."
The ministry also expressed Syria's willingness to cooperate with the envoy.
"Syria is ready to continue cooperating with Mr. Annan and we will continue to inform him of the steps we are taking to implement the plan, in the hope of obtaining documented guarantees," it said.