Tayfun Gol via Crimson Satellite

An official source at the Syrian Defense Ministry announced a decision to halt the armed forces’ missions starting the morning of April 10, the deadline for a cease-fire negotiated as part of the “peace plan” spearheaded by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan with the Syrian government. The same source added that the armed forces would be on alert to confront any attack by armed terrorist groups against civilians, law-enforcement members, the armed forces and private and public facilities.

Reports indicated increased fighting between the imperialist-backed opposition groups and the Syrian army, as well as terrorist acts on civilians and government forces as the deadline for the cease-fire approached.

Heavy clashes in Aleppo took place, including an assault by an opposition group, the Free Syrian Army, on an air force base.

Also leading up to the deadline, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported that 10 law-enforcement members and a civilian were killed by gunfire in the al-Sukkari region of Aleppo.

In another attack at Hreitan, an officer of the Syrian army and two security personnel were killed on April 7. While in Homs, Syrian authorities dismantled a number of explosive devices rigged for remote detonations in the Deir Baalba neighborhood.

The Syrian government has sent letters to the U.N., pointing to the recent increase in terrorist acts committed by the armed “resistance” groups in Syria, especially after the Syrian government had reached an understanding on Annan’s peace plan.

In a statement, President Assad said that the ceasefire would only succeed if the opposition groups committed to it as well. On April 8, Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ministry spokesman Dr. Makdessi criticized Annan’s recent speech at the U.N. Security Council for claiming that Syria had pledged to withdraw troops from cities by April 10. He affirmed that this was a wrong interpretation, especially given that Syria had not been provided with any written guarantees that the armed groups had agreed to stop the violence, nor any guarantees that Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey would commit to stop funding and arming these terrorist groups.

As a response to this statement, Rifat al-Asaad, leader of the Free Syrian Army opposition group, was quoted by Reuters as stating that he would not deliver written guarantees, adding that “the regime will not implement this plan” and that “this plan will fail.” Confident of imperialist support, he said that his organization does not recognize the Assad government and the FSA will silence its weapons only after the Syrian troops have retreated to their barracks and removed all checkpoints.

The Syrian opposition has so far categorically refused to accept any resolution that does not enforce Assad’s removal.

‘Enemies of Syria’ conference

Meanwhile, in the so-called “Friends of Syria” conference held in Istanbul, Turkey, attended by a slew of Western imperialist governments and their regional client regimes, the main opposition body, the Syrian National Council, has announced that opposition forces as well as soldiers who defect from the Syrian army will be paid salaries. These salaries will be funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the mercenary oppressive monarchies that have long been in the service of imperialism.

In the same conference, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton upped her rhetoric in favor of military intervention in Syria, warning of “serious consequences” if Assad fails to implement Annan’s cease-fire plan. “The world must judge Assad by what he does, not by what he says. And we cannot sit back and wait any longer.” Before this conference, Clinton was in Saudi Arabia, meeting King Abdullah to discuss the details of a unified strategy against Syria.

The Syrian government has called the conference in Istanbul a gathering of the “enemies of Syria.”

The Syrian Communist Party-Unified released a statement, noting that hope for peace is mixed with caution now that “the proponents of democracy” in the Gulf states and emirates have, both openly and secretly, committed themselves to support and arm the groups that plant organized terror and horror in Syrian towns and cities, especially after the failure of their project to have the Syrian crisis internationalized. They called on all opposition forces and groups to “lower the ceiling of their demands” in order to defend Syria’s national sovereignty.

In a statement released April 8 by the Syrian Human Rights Network, the group explained that the explicit support for armed terrorist groups from countries such as Turkey, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar hinders the chance of any international resolution on Syria, calling it blatant international hypocrisy.

According to the same statement, guarantees that armed opposition forces will withdraw must be presented to the Syrian government before similar withdrawal guarantees are asked of them.

The SHRN noted that the Syrian army and law-enforcement forces were present in cities to protect civilians from terrorism, violence and violations carried out by armed groups, and that locals often demanded that the army enter their towns and remain there to protect them.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that Annan’s peace plan is nothing more than a pretext to justify military intervention in Syria. The Syrian government has stated that they were willing to cooperate with this plan in order to “remove all excuses” for possible international intervention.

While ignoring the basic demands by the Syrian government for guarantees that the opposition forces will stop the violence, the plan demands that the Syrian government withdraw all its forces. The utter hypocrisy of this “peace” plan becomes more obvious when one takes into account the fact that the same U.S. and NATO forces that are pressuring the Syrian government for a cease-fire are already on the ground in Syria collaborating with the FSA, providing training, weapons and intelligence support, and making a total mockery of international law in the process.

The imperialist powers and their “peaceful” mouthpieces like Kofi Annan have never had any intention of finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Syria. It is especially interesting to note that Annan is the main author of the notorious “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine, which essentially advocates the “right” of imperialist powers to engage in armed intervention for “humanitarian” purposes. The real intention of the imperialist powers regarding Syria is the overthrow of the Syrian government by any means possible in order to replace it with a client regime.

Hands off Syria!