Syria said that it is pulling its troops from some provinces to meet the Tuesday deadline for a United Nations-Arab League-mandated ceasefire.
Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem made the announcement via state-run television, adding that Damascus let in about 28 members of the media into the country starting on March 25.
Al-Moallem said that the U.N. needs to obtain a guarantee from rebel fighters and members of the Free Syrian Army to stop the clashes.
“I asked Annan to contact the armed groups and the countries supporting them,” Moallem said, according to state television. “I asked him to send me a letter on the results of these communications.” He added that Damascus is ready for nationwide talks.
A previous call made by the Syrian government for written statements from rebels was rebuked by the Free Syrian Army, which said it does not recognize the legitimacy of the government after more than a year of conflict that left an estimated 9,000 or more dead.
The regime appeared to continue its violent crackdown on dissent and rebel fighters, activists said.
Activists with the Local Coordination Committees (LCC) said that there were reports of heavy gunfire in several suburbs of Damascus, Aleppo, Daraa, Dayr az Zaur, and Homs. In Daraa, the city where the uprising began last March, “gunfire from heavy machine guns is reported to terrorize residents in the city,” the network said.
The LCC said that at least 160 people were killed yesterday, with at least 40 being women and children. Eight Free Syrian Army members were also killed, it added.