October 25th, 2012
03:13 AM ET

Serious doubts remain about Syria cease-fire hopes

Editor's Note: Exhausted and destitute by an endless civil war, Syrians will find out Thursday whether its government will commit to halting violence - if only for a few days. A true cease-fire would be a historic break in 19 months of endless bloodshed. But if history repeats itself, the promise of a cease-fire would just be empty words.

[Update 3:47 a.m. ET] Syrian state-run TV aired footage of men walking out from behind bars - part of what it said was the government's latest amnesty program for criminals.

The timing of the release is key. Syria is under a microscope this week, as the world waits to see if Bashar al-Assad's forces will commit to a cease-fire during the Eid al-Adha holiday, which starts Friday.

The amnesty also comes about a week after members of the rebel Free Syrian Army told Al Jazeera that they would agree to a proposed cease-fire - as long as the government releases detainees, ends a siege in the city of Homs and stops aerial attacks.

[Posted at 3:13 a.m. ET] Exhausted and destitute by an endless civil war, Syrians will find out Thursday whether its government will commit to halting violence - if only for a few days.

A true cease-fire would be a historic break in 19 months of endless bloodshed. But if history repeats itself, the promise of a cease-fire would just be empty words.

On Wednesday, the U.N.-Arab League special envoy to the country said the government has agreed "in principle" to a cease-fire in time for the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, which begins Friday and lasts four days.

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