BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syria promised to comply with a U.N.-brokered cease-fire beginning today but carved out an important condition — that the regime still has a right to defend itself against the terrorists that it says are behind the country's year-old uprising.
The statement Wednesday offered a glimmer of hope that a peace initiative by special envoy Kofi Annan could help calm the conflict, which has roiled the country for more than a year and killed 9,000 people. But the regime still has ample room to maneuver.
In comments carried on the state-run news agency, Syria said the army has successfully fought off "armed terrorist groups" and reasserted state authority across the country.
"A decision has been taken to stop these missions as of the morning of Thursday, April 12, 2012," the statement said, adding: "Our armed forces are ready to repulse any aggression carried out by the armed terrorist groups against civilians or troops."
The government denies that it is facing an uprising by Syrians who want to dislodge the authoritarian family dynasty that has ruled the country for more than four decades. Instead, the regime says, terrorists are carrying out a foreign conspiracy to destroy Syria.
Because the regime has treated any sign of dissent as a provocation, there are only dim hopes for an abrupt end to the bloodshed.