Rebels still ready for truce if Assad complies

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 10, 2012 9:30 AM

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian rebels fighting the forces of President Bashar al-Assad are committed to a ceasefire under a U.N.-backed peace plan to end the year-long conflict, a rebel spokesman said on Tuesday.

Colonel Qassem Saad al-Deen, spokesman of the joint command of the Free Syrian Army inside Syria, told Reuters the rebels would fight on if Assad does not pull back his troops and tanks from in and around cities by Thursday in line with the plan.

"If the regime continues its shelling with mortars and tanks and does not commit to a ceasefire and to pull back the tanks and the troops, then we will resume the fight to defend our people," he said.

Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said United Nations peace envoy Kofi Annan had told him in a recent telephone call the rebels would be "disarmed" after a ceasefire.

But Saad al-Deen said the issue of disarmament was not brought up during a meeting between the rebels and a delegation sent by Annan.

"What he (Moualem) said is not true, he is lying. The issue of disarming the rebels after a ceasefire was not brought up during the meeting (with Annan's team)."

(Reporting by Mariam Karouny editing by Patrick Graham)