After Syrian cease-fire, more protest plans

(CBS News) In Syria, most of the guns went silent on Thursday as part of a peace deal.

It's the first break since the dictator Bashar al-Assad set out to crush a freedom movement that rose up one year ago, but the former head of the U.N., Kofi Annan, said Assad has not fulfilled all the terms of that truce. His army is still deployed in the cities.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports from Damascus that Annan was right: just two miles from the center of the city, the ceasefire was holding, but the army certainly hadn't pulled back as it had promised to do.

The Syrian government refused CBS News permission to film in the Damascus suburbs, so the crew used a hidden camera to get pictures of the tanks and traffic squeezing past checkpoints every few blocks.

Outside Damascus, in the centers of resistance in Homs and Hana, activists' video showed an equally heavy military presence.

Syria's foreign minister's spokesman, Jihad Makdisi, insisted some troops had pulled back, but refused to say when the rest would.

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Makdisi only confirmed that they are "implementing" the required pull back, and have notified Annan as such.

In the suburb of Irbin, the CBS News crew stopped at a store and immediately the opposition found them.

The opposition said they do not believe the army will respect the cease-fire and they plan to demonstrate on Friday.

"We're not afraid," an opposition member said through a translator. "Our aim is to get rid of Assad."

Over the past year vast crowds of people marched in cities across Syria demanding more freedom and political change, but that was before the crackdown.

Syrian spokesman Makdisi dismissed the idea that only the opposition has suffered in the last year.

"You have to know that casualties are not only from one side," Makdisi said. "What's the way out? It's reconciliation. It's dialogue."

The odds of that reconciliation and dialogue are small.

Syria is now a really divided country. There's a growing hard core of people who say, "Sure, we'll negotiate, as long as the negotiations lead to President Assad stepping down."

The government is never going to agree to that condition going into talks, so it's safe to say the prospects are not very bright - and that's if the cease-fire holds, which few in Damascus believe it will.

  • Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."