DAMASCUS - Syria said that the year-long revolt to topple President Bashar Al-Assad's regime, that left thousands of people dead, is now over.
"The battle to topple the state is over," Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad al-Makdissi told Syria TV late on Friday, March 31, Reuters reported.
"Our goal now is to ensure stability and create a perspective for reform and development in Syria while preventing others from sabotaging the path of reform."
His assertion follows army victories over rebel strongholds in the cities of Hama, Homs and Idlib.
The army kept up an offensive against opposition strongholds on Saturday, pummeling the Khalidiya district of Homs city.
"Mortars are falling every minute and the sounds of explosions are shaking the neighborhood," an activist report said.
A child was killed by rocket fire in the al-Bayyada area and a man was killed in crossfire in clashes near a checkpoint.
Rebels battled army forces near a base in Jaramaneh in Damascus province.
Five bodies bearing signs of torture were found near Maarat al-Noaman, the report said.
A soldier was killed when rebels ambushed a troop carrier in Deraa province.
More than 9,500 people have been killed in Assad's security crackdown on anti-regime government a year ago.
Syrian authorities blame terrorists and foreign-backed armed groups for the violence, saying they have killed 2,000 soldiers and police.
The announcement follows Syria's acceptance of a UN peace plan, which Damascus says recognizes its sovereignty and right to security.
"When security can be maintained for civilians, the army will leave," Makdissi said.
Assad has endorsed UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan, which has the UN Security Council's unanimous backing.
Assad's opponents have not yet formally accepted the plan.
Makdissi said Annan, who had talks with Assad in Damascus on March 10, had acknowledged the government's right to respond to armed violence during the ceasefire phase of the peace plan.
He said Syria's conditions for agreeing to Annan's plan included recognition of its sovereignty and right to security.
"This is a Syrian matter."
However, Annan's plan says Syria must stop putting troops into cities forthwith and begin taking them out.
"The Syrian government should immediately cease troop movement towards, and end the use of heavy weapons in, population centers, and begin pullback of military concentrations in and around population centers," it states.
"As these actions are being taken on the ground, the Syrian government should work with the envoy to bring about a sustained cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties with an effective United Nations supervision mechanism," it says.
The UN peacekeeping department will send a team to Damascus soon to begin planning for a possible ceasefire observer mission, Western diplomats said on Thursday.
Western diplomats say the key to the implementation of Annan's ceasefire -- the main thrust of the deal -- lies in the sequencing of the army pullback and ending rebel armed attacks.
"The armed opposition is incapable of toppling the regime," Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, an ally to Assad, said.
He said foreign intervention in the Syrian conflict was a "closed subject"."Betting on military efforts to topple the regime is a losing gamble and the burden is too great: more bloodshed and loss of life and property, to no avail," he said on Friday.