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The truce, the first brokered by the international community since the Syria crisis erupted in March 2011, calls for the Syrian government to allow peaceful protests. Opposition activists had urged supporters to take to the streets after Friday prayers to test the regime’s compliance.

The Syrian government has broken promises in the past and so far ignored a key provision of Annan’s plan to pull troops back to barracks. Opposition leaders say Assad doesn’t want to ease the clampdown because that would unleash protesters to flood the streets and escalate the movement to bring down the president.

Mass protests were held during the early days of the uprising, but such demonstrations have become smaller and are dispersed quickly because of the violent crackdown and heavy presence of Syrian security forces.

On the diplomatic front, Annan has urged the 15-nation U.N. Security Council to authorize an observer mission that would help keep the peace.

Fawzi, his spokesman, said an advance team was prepared to travel to Syria quickly to prepare for a full mission of up to 250 observers on the ground. He also quoted Annan as telling the council “that we need eyes on the ground, in light of the fragile calm that appears to be prevailing. We need eyes on the ground quickly to observe and monitor the situation.”


Associated Press writers Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara, Turkey, and John Heilprin in Geneva contributed to this report.