The United States said on Wednesday Syria's new pledge to halt all fighting by dawn on Thursday holds "little if any credibility" and that the caveats placed by President Bashar al-Assad's government on the ceasefire are worrying.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the commitment - made by Syria in a letter to Kofi Annan, envoy of the United Nations and Arab League - could not be construed as complying with Annan's six-point peace plan."The burden remains squarely on the Syrian regime and not the opposition in the first instance to meet its obligations in full and visibly under the Annan plan," Rice told reporters.
"The caveats in the letter are worrying and yet again cast into doubt the credibility of any such commitments but nothing casts more doubt on the credibility of the commitments than the fact that commitments have been made and made and made and broken and broken and broken," she said.
In the letter to Annan on Wednesday, Syria said it reserves the right to respond to any attack by "armed terrorist groups."
Damascus had agreed to a U.N. Security Council-backed Tuesday deadline to withdraw troops from and stop using heavy weapons against Syrian towns, to be followed by a full ceasefire by the army and rebels on Thursday morning. But the fighting has not stopped.
"Fighting is still raging as we speak, reflecting what has been an intensification of the violence that the Syrian government has pursued since April 1 when it committed to cease all hostile actions by yesterday," Rice said.
"Its commitments, therefore, have little if any credibility given that track record," she added.
The United Nations says more than 9,000 people have been killed by Syrian forces since March 2011. Damascus says rebels have killed more than 2,500 soldiers and security personnel.
Annan is due to brief the U.N. Security Council on Thursday. Any action by the council would need the support of Russia and China, which have blocked previous Security Council draft resolutions on Syria, citing concerns about a Libya-style intervention that would breach Syrian sovereignty.