Syria declared Saturday that the year-long revolt to topple President Bashar Assad is now over, but the troops loyal to Bashar al-Assad continued their bombing against cities across the country amid violent fighting between soldiers and deserters near Damascus and in the south.
"The battle to bring down the government in Syria is over once and for all," the regime announced. The spokesman of the Syrian Foreign Ministry Jihad Makdisi said the army would withdraw from residential areas after "the restoration of security and peace."
Makdisi further emphasized that Syria is committed to positively cooperate with UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's mission to end months of unrest in the country, and that Damascus supports Annan's mission as long as it respects Syrian sovereignty and does not violate the country’s national security.
However, Annan's plan says Syria must stop putting troops into cities forthwith and begin taking them out.
Hours after the Syrian regime declaration, the Free Syrian Army has said it will not hold fire as long as the regime army continues to deploy artillery and tanks in and around opposition strongholds.
Meanwhile, Alarabiya news reported that, Syrian regime forces have captured the deputy commander of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Damascus and its suburbs.Colonel al-Moatasim Billah Abu al-Walid is the deputy of Colonel General Khaled Habous who heads the FSA’s operations in the capital and the surrounding area.
On Saturday, at least 19 people, mostly civilians, were killed in various military operations.
Artillery and mortars pounded a pro-opposition part of Homs city, killing one. Ten deaths were reported in Homs province,the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
In southern Deraa province, five were killed by machine gun fire in Kharbat Ghazaleh and three died from wounds sustained in clashes on Friday. Rebels killed six soldiers, including a lieutenant colonel in Deir al-Zor, the Observatory said.
Rocket fire killed a child in the al-Bayyada area of Homs and a man was killed in crossfire in clashes near a checkpoint,a spokesman for Free Syrian Army said.
Moreover, in Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister assured that the Syrian regime would not fall, and that efforts seeking to overthrow it by force would only exacerbate the crisis in the region. "It's been a year and the Syrian regime has not fallen. It will not fall and why should it fall? We are against sending arms (to the opposition) and any process leading to the overthrow of the regime because it would worsen the crisis in the region," warned Nuri al-Maliki.