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Syrian regime agrees to truce deal

Last Updated Feb 23, 2016 6:05 AM EST

BEIRUT -- The Syrian government said Tuesday that it had accepted a proposed truce in the country, adding that operations would nevertheless continue against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al Qaeda's branch in Syria.

A Foreign Ministry statement on Tuesday said government forces would have the right to respond to any violation carried out by insurgents.

CBS News' George Baghdadi said the government statement made it clear the military offensive against ISIS, al Qaeda's al Nusra Front, and "other related terrorist groups" would continue. Syrian leader Bashar Assad's regime refers to all insurgent and opposition groups battling to topple him as terrorist groups.

That, explains CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer, essentially gives the Syrian forces free reign to continue attacking anyone they want -- including groups backed by the U.S.

"In order to guarantee the success of the truce, the Syrian government asserts its readiness to continue its coordination with the Russian side to determine the territories and armed groups that are included in the truce," the Syrian Foreign Ministry said.

The official Syrian announcement came a day after the United States and Russia agreed on a new cease-fire for Syria that is to take effect Saturday.

The main umbrella for Syrian opposition and rebel groups said late Monday that it "agrees to a temporary truce" as long as the main opposition's demands are met.

Indirect peace talks between the Syrian government and HNC collapsed on Feb. 3, because of a large-scale government offensive.

As Palmer reported Monday, ISIS and al Nusra were never included in the agreement hammered out by the U.S. and Russia as they are terrorist groups.

Both the U.S. and Russia are also still targeting those groups with airstrikes. The State Department made the five-page truce plan public after Presidents Obama and Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone Monday.

Putin later called the cease-fire agreement a "real step that can stop the bloodshed."

But Palmer says the loopholes in the deal are significant. In addition to the Syrian regime's vow to continue fighting "terrorist groups," there is also no provision for monitoring in the truce deal. On a battlefiled as large and dangerous as Syria, it would be impossible to organize teams of observers before Friday.

One Syrian general told Palmer in Damascus that, frankly, he has little appetite for a cease-fire as his troops -- backed by Russia and Iran -- are winning now, so why stop?

About a third of Syria is held by ISIS, making it certain that even if and when the cease-fire does take effect, the fighting will continue.

On Monday, ISIS claimed responsibility for bombs that killed at least 100 in suburban Damascus.

At one of the bomb sites, Palmer met local residents as they pitched in to clean up and make the street safe again. Many were furious that ISIS had managed to smuggle three bombs into their tightly-knit community -- one of which went off around 4 p.m., just as the kids were getting home from school.

While it would stand to reason that people who have witnessed such carnage, people burying more than 100 family members and friends, would welcome a pause in the violence, that was not the sentiment Palmer witnessed in Damascus.

"No way," Abu Mahran told CBS News, and everyone in the crowd agreed. "We don't want a ceasefire until all the terrorists are out of our country."

It's not a good sign for the proposed truce, noted Palmer, when even the citizens aren't onside.