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Syria ceasefire partly observed

world Updated: Apr 13, 2012 00:26 IST

A UN-backed ceasefire that took effect in Syria at dawn is only being "partially observed" as heavy weapons and government troops remain deployed in cities, the main opposition movement said on Thursday.

"There is no evidence of a significant withdrawal," the Syrian National Council's spokeswoman Basma Kodmani told a news briefing in Geneva.

"The ceasefire is ... only partially observed ... To us it is clear that ceasefire implied withdrawal of all heavy weaponry from cities, populated areas. This has not happened."

Kodmani referred to the peace plan of international mediator Kofi Annan accepted by the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Annan's spokesman, in a statement on Wednesday announcing that Syria had pledged to halt fighting, stressed that the plan required its forces to withdraw from urban areas.

Syrian troops held their fire in the hours after the ceasefire took effect at dawn on Thursday, casting a silence over rebellious towns they had bombarded heavily in recent days.

Kodmani said that there had been shelling around the town of Zabadani early on Thursday and that three people had been killed in the towns of Idlib and Hama since the truce deadline expired at 6am.

"We see on the ground tanks still centred and positioned inside all populated areas where they have been for the last three weeks. They have moved slightly from one position to another. Snipers are deployed across the country in all populated areas.

"There is a big increase in the number of checkpoints and those checkpoints are heavily armed," she said. "We have precise information and videos and pictures to provide evidence that heavy weapons are still stationed insides cities."