Assad vows to ‘do our part’ so Syria ceasefire holds

Assad vows to ‘do our part’ so Syria ceasefire holds

BERLIN – Agence France-Presse
Assad vows to ‘do our part’ so Syria ceasefire holds

Syrian men walk past a poster bearing a portrait of President Bashar al-Assad in the capital Damascus, on February 27, 2016, as the first major ceasefire of the five-year war takes hold and an international task force prepares to begin monitoring the landmark truce. AFP Photo

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad pledged March 1 to do his part to ensure that a fragile ceasefire holds and offered “full amnesty” to rebels who hand in their weapons.

“We will do our part so that the whole thing works,” he told German public broadcaster ARD in an interview, referring to a three-day-old truce drawn up by Russia and the United States.

“We have refrained ourselves from retaliating in order to give [a] chance for the agreement to survive. That’s what we can do, but at the end everything has a limit. It depends on the other side,” he added.

Describing the truce as a “glimmer of hope,” the president also offered an amnesty to opposition fighters if they agree to disarm.  

“Just ... give up your armament, whether you want to join the political process or [are] not interested about the political process, you don’t have any political agenda, it doesn’t matter.”

“The most important thing for me, legally and constitutionally, ... [is] that you’re not allowed, as a citizen, to hold machine guns and hurt people or properties,” he said. 

“This is the only thing that we ask. We don’t ask for anything. As I said, we give them full amnesty,” he said.

While describing the situation in his country as a “humanitarian catastrophe,” Assad denied that his troops were cutting off food and medical supplies from rebel-held cities.  

“How could we prevent them from having food while we cannot prevent them from having armaments?” he argued.

Since the start of the ceasefire, aid workers on Monday made the first delivery of desperately needed assistance to rebel-held Moadamiyet al-Sham, encircled by government forces.