The U.N. says Syria has agreed to Kofi Annan's plan to end the violent crackdown in its country, at the same as reports that government troops have entered Lebanon to attack rebel fighters. The former Secretary General was appointed as a special envoy to Syria this month and proposed a six-point plan that begins with a cease-fire by the government. Annan was in China on Tuesday to negotiate support for the plan from one of Syria's biggest supporters, when a spokesperson said Annan had received formal notice from Damascus that Bashar al-Assad's regime was ready to end the fighting.
Meanwhile, there are other reports today that fighting between government forces and Syrian rebels has spilled over the country's border with Lebanon, with Syrian troops crossing the poorly marked divide to destroy farm buildings where rebels have taken refuge. The Al Qaa region of Lebanon has frequently been used as a smuggling point both for fighters to sneak supplies and journalists into Syria and for refugees to escape. Bashar al-Assad himself also reportedly visited the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, a former rebel stronghold that was leveled by weeks of shelling and rocket attacks.
Since the peace plan requires the Syrian army to stand down, the continued fighting suggests that any actual progress may be a long way off. While today's announcement does offer some glimmer of hope, until the government actually implements a cease fire, it could be nothing more than a stalling tactic or an attempt to shift the blame to rebel fighters for any further violence. The U.N. has no power to impose a cease fire on Assad's forces, so any end to the fighting continues to rest with the government. They could end the violence at any moment, but at this moment it appears they still haven't. Until the guns actually fall silent, all these negotiations will still be just talk.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.