Syrian government reaches agreement to end months-long crackdown (with video)

The Takeaway

Syrians participate in protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. (Photo from ABCau video.)

Story from The Takeaway. Listen to the above audio for a complete report.

Syria has agreed to a plan to end nearly eight months of bloodshed that have left at least 3,000 people dead.

In the wake of Arab Spring protests around the Middle East and Africa, Syria has been gripped by violence as thousands of protesters confront well-armed government forces trying to end the protests. The agreement, which was reached in Cairo between Syria and foreign miniters from the Arab League, is probably the last, best chance the Syrian government has to extricate itself from this situation.

"It's pretty much the only game in town when it comes to the Syrian uprising. The Arab League seemed like the only game in town for the Syrian government," said Anthony Shadid, Beirut bureau chief for The New York Times.

Shadid said the agreement is expansive. It includes withdrawing military forces form the street, releasing almost 70,000 political prisoners and agreement to talks with opposition leaders.

If the agreement is fulfilled — and so far, more than 12 hours after it was announced there have been few signs of progress — it would bring a path to negotiations between the government and the opposition that could lead to a new government. Until then, the opposition has been muted in its comments about the agreement.

"Even in the announcement, there was a sense of 'Let's see what happens. Let's see if action is actually taken inside Syria,' " Shadid said.