by our Arab Affairs correspondent
THE SYRIAN government has agreed to a temporary ceasefire following intense efforts by the United Nation’s special envoy over the past two weeks. But the Syrian army is continuing mopping up operations in the run up to the halt in fighting.
Meanwhile a senior Russian general says that the Nato-supported rebels have been supplied with top-of-the range Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and the Assad government has official accused France of openly arming and funding the terrorist gangs.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is also marking the Muslim festival with a general amnesty for crimes committed before 23rd October 2012, though it will not cover acts of terrorism, arms smuggling or drug dealing. The amnesty covers convicts and anyone who gives themselves up now but it will not apply to criminals who remain on the run.
Prisoners on death row will have their sentence commuted to life imprisonment and life sentences will be reduced to 20 years.
The Syrian armed forces and most of the sectarian rebel militias will observe a ceasefire over the four day Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha that begins on Friday.
United Nations special envoy Lakhdar Ibrahimi, who brokered the deal, says he hopes to use the lull to discuss a longer and more effective ceasefire to allow the political process to develop. And the UN’s head of peacekeeping operations, Herve Ladsous said that he was making plans to send a new observer force to Syria should a lasting ceasefire be agreed.
This week Russian Chief of Staff, Nikolai Makarov, told the Russian media that the Nato-backed rebels are now being supplied with state-of the art equipment.
General Makarov said he had “reliable” information that the rebels have obtained shoulder-launched missiles including US-made Stingers.
“The Americans are in denial, saying they have not supplied anything to the rebels,” General Makarov told reporters on Wednesday.
“But we have reliable information that the militias fighting against the Syrian government forces have portable anti-aircraft missile systems from several states, including Stingers made in the United States.”
“We still need to find out who has delivered them,” he said adding that it was possible that these and other weapons could have been delivered to the rebels from abroad by several means of transport, “including passenger planes”.
That the Syrian rebels have been armed and financed by US-led imperialism and their feudal Arab lackeys has been an open secret for months. Earlier in the year US President Barack Obama signed a secret order authorising the CIA and other covert US fronts to provide support for the rebels trying to bring down the Baathist-led government of Syria.
Now it seems that the rebels are even paid in Yankee dollars to spread death and destruction across the country. Rebel commanders have told the imperialist media that their gunmen get $150 a month via the Turks and some of the feudal Arab states including Saudi Arabia and Qatar.