Arab League chief hails “positive development” in Syria

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi on Thursday hailed news that a ceasefire appeared to be holding in Syria, where a conflict has killed thousands since March last year.

In a statement, Arabi "welcomed this positive development and urged the [UN-Arab League] joint envoy to send observers to Syria soon to monitor the ceasefire."

The head of the 22-member body said he hoped "this was a beginning that would allow the joint envoy to move towards steps for a political solution to the Syrian crisis."

Joint UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan said a ceasefire appeared to be holding but that President Bashar al-Assad must carry out all parts of an agreed peace plan.

"Syria is apparently experiencing a rare moment of calm on the ground," Annan said in a statement released as he briefed the UN Security Council on the 13-month-old crisis in which the UN says more than 9,000 people have been killed.

A ceasefire came into effect in Syria on Thursday and Annan said: "I am encouraged by reports that the situation in Syria is relatively calm and that the cessation of hostilities appears to be holding."

Annan added, however, that the Syrian government must carry out of all the agreed peace plan which includes a withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons from Syria's cities.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon

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