Syria says revolt over, army to pull out gradually

By REUTERS
March 31, 2012 15:26

BEIRUT - Syria says the year-long revolt to topple President Bashar Assad is now over, but it will keep its forces in cities to "maintain security" until it is safe to withdraw in keeping with a UN-backed peace deal.

The agreement proposed by United Nations-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan says the Syrian authorities must be first to withdraw troops and stop violence immediately.

The army kept up an offensive against opposition strongholds on Saturday, pummeling the Khalidiya district of Homs city.

"Mortars are falling every minute and the sounds of explosions are shaking the neighborhood," an activist report said. A child was killed by rocket fire in the al-Bayyada area and a man was killed in crossfire in clashes near a checkpoint.

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