Amid international skepticism, a U.N.-backed cease-fire took an uneasy hold in Syria on Thursday, and there are scattered reports of violence.
Syrian state media say a roadside bomb in the city of Aleppo killed one soldier and wounded 24 officers and cadets on Thursday. Rights activists say one civilian was shot dead in Hama province by forces loyal to the government.
Opposition groups say Syrian troops remain deployed in flashpoint cities and are on high alert.
The cease-fire is being watched closely by skeptical Western envoys and Syrian opposition groups who are weighing President Bashar al-Assad's good faith in observing a peace plan brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan.
The Syrian government agreed to stop its year-long assaults on opposition forces Thursday morning as part of that peace plan. The government has warned it would retaliate if "armed terrorist groups" attack civilians or troops.
Annan will update the U.N. Security Council Thursday morning.
The United States and its Western partners have pressed for stronger action against Syria for months but have been hindered by Russian and Chinese opposition to what those two nations call outside interference in Syria.
The opposition Syrian National Council considers the cease-fire only "partially observed" because the government has not fully withdrawn its forces from urban areas.
Syrian opposition leaders called for demonstrations to test the resolve of the government to abide by the cease-fire.
The government on Thursday urged thousands of Syrians who fled from their homes or took refuge in neighboring countries to return home.
One refugee staying on the Turkish side of the border told Reuters news agency nothing from Assad's government could be trusted.
"We do not trust in the words of Bashar Assad because he is a liar. His government is lying. All the countries know this," the refugee said.
Refugee Huseyin Kasif at the Yayladagi Refugee Camp in Turkey also dismissed Assad's intentions, accusing him of spewing "gibberish."
"This cease-fire will not stay long," said Kasif. "He [Syrian President Assad] has been promising this for a year. I do not think he will withdraw neither tanks nor troops. He is lying. Whenever he says he will end the massacre, he kills more.''
Opposition Syrian National Council member Bassam Imadi Thursday said he was not certain the cease-fire would hold. And he said, if it did, it could only be a first step.
"There should be some kind of dialogue. In our mind, the dialogue should be about the transition phase after Assad steps down. So this could be the second step.''
Syrian state-run media said Thursday that 160 armed men from the Damascus and Latakia areas had surrendered to authorities.
President Assad has refused to step down in the face of growing international pressure. In a statement Wednesday, Syria said the army had successfully fought off "armed terrorist groups" and had "reasserted the state's rule across the country."
U.N. officials say more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began 13 months ago.
Source: VOA News