The Syrian Army has agreed to a four-day-long truce with rebel fighters from Friday until Monday to mark Eid al-Aha, the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice, which is the most important holiday for Muslims.
The announcement of the truce was made on Thursday and, while both sides have agreed to follow through, it will likely be tested on many fronts, because of the fractured nature of fighting in the country, reports The New York Times.
The truce was negotiated by Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN envoy to Syria as a way of starting a peace process. If the fighting slows down or stops, it would be the first time the two sides have said they would try to stop the violence since April.
The previous ceasefire, which was arranged by former envoy Kofi Annan, was not honored by either side, though it did slow the amount of killing for a few days.
The Syrian Army’s statement was read on state television and said that, while the military would respect the holiday cease-fire, it would still retaliate if attacked.
They added that the army would respond if the so-called “terrorist groups” (their blanket description for the armed opposition) attacked them, resupplied their ammunition, reinforced their positions, or if more of their foreign fighters came into the country.
The Chicago Tribune notes that the UN Security Council is supporting the temporary cease-fire, with Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin stating:
“We have had indications that they (Syria’s government) are accepting the proposal of Mr. Brahimi.”
The council met on Wednesday to talk about the cease-fire, after which the council released a statement that it would begin on Friday. They urged “all regional and international actors to use their influence” to ensure that the truce is implemented. The council added:
“The members of the Council agreed that an Eid al-Adha ceasefire could be a first step towards a sustainable cessation of all violence.”
Mark Lyall Grant, the British ambassador, told reporters:
“He had been in touch with various parts of the opposition. Certainly the Free Syrian Army and other parts of the opposition had indicated that they were prepared to respond if the government took the first step in initiating the ceasefire over the Eid period.”
The cease-fire, if it is held up by for the Syrian Army and rebel fighters, could be key in ending the 19-month-long conflict in the Middle Eastern nation.