A Thursday morning deadline to end hostilities in Syria has passed and no major incidents have been reported, but government troops have not yet withdrawn from their positions. The removal of Bashar al-Assad's forces from major population centers was actually meant to be the first part of the peace plan, but according to Al Jazeera and witnesses online, there has bee no movement (forward or backward) of military vehicles or personnel. Al Jazeera also reports that there were four minor incidents of the cease-fire being violated after the 6:00 a.m. deadline, but that no casualties were reported.
Syrian officials say they reserve the right to respond to "armed terrorist groups" and the Syrian rebels are disjointed and scattered without a unifying leadership, which it means it won't take much for either side to re-engage the fighting — and blame the other guys for starting it. However, if the calm continues it might at least be an opening for humanitarian workers to move into the hardest hit areas, and possibly a chance for new and real negotiations to get moving. The real test will come if anti-Assad demonstrators decide to take to the streets — which is what started this revolt in the first place almost one year ago — and if the government decides to respond. Friday has traditionally been a day for protest marches all throughout the Arab Spring so that may be when we learn if the peace will truly hold.
Unfortunately, few seem optimistic that it will. Yesterday, we predicted that the cease-fire would be a horrible failure, but this is one prognostication that we'd be happy to be wrong about.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.