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Troops And Tanks Remain, But Truce Begins In Syria

The early word from Syria is that "flashpoints of the 13-month uprising against President Bashar Assad were quiet Thursday ... suggesting a U.N.-brokered truce was starting to take hold and the regime was keeping a pledge to halt its assault on opposition strongholds," The Associated Press reports.

Still, NPR's Grant Clark reports from Beirut that some activists inside Syria say government forces did fire at least a few shells toward a suburb of Damascus and that there were other ceasefire violations by government forces in Idlib and Hama provinces. No casualties have been reported, Grant also tells our Newscast Desk.

Al-Jazeera starts its report with this:

"An internationally brokered ceasefire in Syria has come into effect with few reports of violence, but the government has not begun withdrawing troops and armored vehicles from civilian areas, leaving a key part of the peace plan unfulfilled."

The Guardian, which is live blogging as the day continues, calls the mood in Syria "tense" as the ceasefire hopefully goes into effect. Voice of America's headline says an "uneasy quiet" has descended on Syria.

Update at 10:50 a.m. ET. Annan "Encouraged."

This statement has been sent to reporters on behalf of former U.S. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who brokered the ceasefire deal:

"I am encouraged by reports that the situation in Syria is relatively quiet and that the cessation of hostilities appears to be holding.

"Syria is apparently experiencing a rare moment of calm on the ground. This is bringing much-needed relief and hope to the Syrian people who have suffered so much for so long in this brutal conflict. This must now be sustained. All parties have obligations to implement fully the 6-point plan. This includes both the military provisions of the plan and the commitment to move to a political process. I urge all Syrian to seize this opportunity.

"The international community is determined to work with the Syrian people to support this process.

"The Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, will be asking the Security Council for approval of the deployment of a U.N. Observer Mission as soon as possible. This will allow us to move quickly to launch a serious political dialogue that will address the concerns and aspirations of the Syrian people.

"This is the time for all Syrians to come together in the hope that they can begin to heal their wounds and initiate a political transition to a democratic, plural political system, in which citizens have equal rights and equal opportunities, regardless of their affiliations or ethnicities or beliefs."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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