Syria claims fighting will stop Thursday

Syria claimed that it would stop the fighting before Thursday’s deadline for a ceasefire under a United Nations-Arab League peace plan.

An unnamed official at the Syrian Defense Ministry was quoted on the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency that the government has decided to halt the fighting, starting Thursday morning.

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Syria largely ignored the first deadline in U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan, according to reports from the region, in which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces were supposed to withdraw from major cities.

The Associated Press reported Syria was still attacking opposition forces with rockets and mortar fire on Wednesday.

Annan was in Tehran on Wednesday, where he said that Iran can be “part of the solution,” according to published reports.

The ceasefire is seen as the best chance for a diplomatic solution to end the Syrian conflict, which has lasted a year and left more than 9,000 dead, according to U.N. estimates.

The Obama administration has provided humanitarian aid and communications equipment to the opposition forces, but it remains opposed to arming the rebels.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who were in a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey on Tuesday, have criticized President Obama for not getting more involved there. The two senators called for foreign airstrikes again Tuesday, and said the international community is “failing the people of Syria” by not providing arms.