The Syrian army has said it will halt all military operations beginning Friday morning, in response to a proposal for a temporary ceasefire by international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, dpa reported.
The general command of the army added in a statement broadcast on Syrian state television that it would abide by a truce during the four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which starts on Friday.
"Our armed forces preserve the right to respond if the terrorist armed groups continue to fire on civilians and government troops, attack public and private properties and use car bombs and explosives," read the statement.
It added that there would also be responses if the rebels took advantage of the truce to reinforce their positions and get military supplies, or if neighbouring countries facilitated "terrorists' passage" into Syria.
The rebel Free Syrian Army said its fighters would abide by the truce and called for the release of all prisoners held by the Syrian government starting on Friday, the Dubai-based broadcaster al-Arabiya reported.
Brahimi said he hoped that the truce would clear the way for initiating a political solution to Syria's 20-month conflict.
The opposition remains sceptical about the Syrian government's adherence.
"We do not have any trust in the regime, which has not kept any promise," said Burhan Ghalioun, a former head of the main opposition group, the Syrian National Council.
The Al-Nusra Front, an Islamist militant Syrian opposition group, has already rejected Brahimi's proposal.
"There is no truce between us and this regime, which is shedding the blood of Muslims," the group said in a statement posted on the internet.
The United Nations Security Council and China have both backed Brahimi's efforts to broker the truce.
"We hope all relevant parties in Syria will adopt a sincere approach and take concrete measures to support and cooperate with United Nations' envoy Brahimi's proposal," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, whose country is a key ally of al-Assad's regime.
China and Russia, veto-holding permanent members of the UN Security Council, previously blocked UN efforts to step up intervention in Syria's conflict, save for the deployment of UN observers during a failed ceasefire plan launched in April.
On the ground in Syria, rebels attacked a government military brigade in the northern city of Aleppo, reported the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The London-based organization said nine civilians were killed and 15 wounded by shelling in the mainly Christian area of Ashrafiyeh, located on a route between the central and northern parts of Aleppo.
At least 100 people were killed Thursday across Syria, including 27 in Aleppo, according to the watchdog.
The UN refugee agency said it was ready to send emergency aid to thousands of Syrian families in restive areas if the ceasefire held.
The opposition says more than 34,000 people have been killed in Syria's 20-month conflict. The figure could not be independently verified. dpa wh raf bs npr ncs Authors: Weedah Hamzah, Ramadan Al-Fatash, Bill Smith