GENEVA - Syrian authorities told international mediator Kofi Annan they had started withdrawing troops from three areas as part of a peace plan to end more than a year of fighting with rebels, his spokesman said on Thursday.
But the report was undermined by news of fresh clashes between government forces and insurgents in another area in a town near the capital Damascus.
Fighting shows no sign of abating even though Syrian President Bashar-Assad agreed more than a week ago to a six-point peace plan drawn up by Annan, the joint UN-Arab League envoy to Syria.
"Yes they have told us that they have begun withdrawing troops from certain areas," Annan's spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told a news briefing in Geneva. "They have specified three cities - Deraa, Idlib and Zabadani."