'Syria Vows to Withdraw All Military Troops From Towns by April 10'

International envoy Kofi Annan says Damascus agrees to deadline when UN-backed peace plan will begin.

The Syrian government has informed international mediator Kofi Annan that it is implementing a plan to withdraw all military units from towns by April 10, Annan's spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said on Monday.

If Annan, who is the joint special envoy of the United Nations and Arab League, is able to verify the withdrawal on April 10, then both the government and opposition forces have 48
hours to cease hostilities, he said.

Ban Ki-Moon and Kofi Annan - AFP - February 29, 2012
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (R) meets with UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria Kofi Annan at the United Nations headquarters in New York, February 29, 2012.AFP

"The Syrians have told us they have put a plan in place for withdrawing their army units from populated zones and surrounding areas. This plan began yesterday (Sunday), the day
we got the letter, and will be completed by April 10," Fawzi told Reuters in Geneva after Annan briefed the UN Security Council.

"If we are able to verify this has happened on the 10th, then the clock starts ticking on the cessation of hostilities, by the opposition as well. We expect both sides to cease hostilities within 48 hours," Fawzi said.

Homs - AP - Feb 2012
A Syrian tank during clashes with army defectors in Homs province, January 2012.AP