Rebels Greet Assad’s Ceasefire With Skepticism

Rebels Greet Assad’s Ceasefire With Skepticism

A ceasefire proposal floated by Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadr Jamil on Thursday has been met with guffaws from the Syrian opposition and silence by Washington as world leaders prepare for next week’s UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

A Western diplomat tells The Cable that Western powers aren’t rushing to embrace the proposal and a spokesman for the U.S.-backed Syrian National Coalition called Jamil’s comment "not a credible statement."

Jamil’s offer first appeared in The Guardian on Thursday as he made the unexpected admission that neither side in Syria can prevail militarily in the two-and-a-half year conflict.  "Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side," he said. "This zero balance of forces will not change for a while."

If accepted by the Syrian opposition, Jamil said the ceasefire would be kept "under international observation" and enforced by UN peacekeepers by friendly or neutral countries. On Friday, SNC spokesman Louay Safi told CBS News that the opposition wasn’t theoretically opposed to a ceasefire "but it has to be part of a comprehensive peace plan."

Thus far, the SNC has refused any political solution that allows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to remain in power, a demand the Assad regime says is non-negotiable. The diplomatic stalemate has been a persistent roadblock for the U.S. and its allies. "For now, we believe actions speak louder than words and we look forward to seeing if the Assad regime is going to follow through on its commitments," the Western diplomat told The Cable

On that front, Syria actually met its first deadline on Friday by submitting an initial declaration of its chemical weapons stockpiles to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The OPCW confirmed today that it’s studying the details of the declaration and the State Department announced that it too is examining Syria’s submission.

"We will be making a careful and thorough review of it," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Friday. "Clearly, we said they needed to submit a comprehensive list of their entire stockpile and program, but we’ll have more to come."

Neither the State Department nor the White House remarked on the purported ceasefire offer from the Assad regime today. However, a separate ceasefire agreement between rival rebel factions on Friday is easing fears of a new civil war within the civil war.

After seizing the northern town of Azaz on Wednesday, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, an al-Qaeda-linked group, agreed to a ceasefire with the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, and hostilities have reportedly halted for the time being.