Arab League foreign ministers council ends discussions with adoption of deal with Syria to end crisis

Syria agrees all four items of the plan

Agreement calls for end to violence, release of detainees, withdrawal of army and access to monitor developments

Home opposition welcomes deal but Syria’s national council casts doubts

Syria has agreed to end its crackdown on anti-government demonstrations, pull troops from the streets and release prisoners jailed during months of protests, the Arab League announced Wednesday.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government agreed to "stop all violence from any side in order to protect the Syrian citizens," Qatar's foreign minister, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasim, announced after an Arab League meeting in Cairo. The Syrians also agreed to allow Arab League observers and international journalists to into Syria and allow their freedom of movement "in order to witness and document the reality of the developments," he said.

And in two weeks, they will launch a "national dialogue" moderated by the Arab League, he said.

In response, the Free Syrian Army -- a group of military deserters who have helped defend anti-government protesters -- said it would abide by the Arab League agreement "as long as the regime commits to the same."

"And in the case that the regime falls short of meeting the Arab League requirements, we will be compelled to protect the protesters and work on bringing down the regime no matter how much that may cost us," the group added in a post on its Facebook page.

Syria has made previous pledges to withdraw armed forces from civilian areas. But in some of those cases, they withdrew only armored units and left infantry in place, or returned after a brief pullout. Anti-government activists criticized those steps as efforts by al-Assad's regime to buy time.

Syria also has made other moves aimed at defusing the protests, including plans to draft a new constitution, but they have failed to appease the demonstrators.

The Arab League declaration came amid reports of more than two dozen deaths across the country on Wednesday.

The Local Coordinating Committees of Syria, an opposition umbrella group, said four people were killed in the suburbs of Damascus, while 21 were killed in the northern province of Homs.

Snipers were deployed in the city of Homs to enforce a curfew, while artillery fire continued in Hama, the group reported.

And the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces used tanks and heavy weapons to disperse a large demonstration in al-Hula, while military deserters killed three pro-government "thugs" blamed for killing 11 people at a factory Wednesday morning.

CNN cannot independently verify the reports because the Syrian government has limited access to international news organizations.

Syria is one of several Middle Eastern and North African states swept up in the "Arab Spring" revolts that began in January in Tunisia.

The United Nations estimates that more than 3,000 people have died in Syria since unrest broke out in mid-March, when protesters began calling for the end the 40-year-old al-Assad regime.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government is "addicted to killing" and will not stop bloodshed despite agreeing with Arab states to end its military crackdown on protesters, a prominent anti-government activist said on Thursday.

Under an agreement announced by the Arab League on Wednesday, Assad's government promised to hold talks with opponents, free prisoners and withdraw its troops from cities.

But the opposition has remained skeptical of Assad's motives. Activist Haitham al-Maleh told Reuters he believed Assad had signed up to the agreement merely to buy time to cling to power.

"The regime agreed to the deal to get more time and delay its fall," Maleh told Reuters in an interview. "The agreement will not be upheld because the regime is addicted to killing -- it cannot be cured of that so quickly."

Assad's government says it is fighting armed insurgents who have repeatedly attacked the security forces.

Activists say his troops have fired on unarmed protesters in violence that has escalated since anti-government demonstrators first took to the streets in March, inspired by protest movements elsewhere in the Arab world.

The United Nations says 3,000 people have been killed.

Maleh, a former judge and political prisoner released at the start of the protests, called the Arab League's meeting "unproductive" and said he hoped that rather than speak to the Syrian government, the League would begin to seriously address protesters' demands.

"The Syrian people have decided: the regime must go. So there can be no dialogue that doesn't involve the regime leaving. A murderous regime cannot be accepted," he said.

Activists said Syrian tank fire killed at least ten people in the old Bab Amro district of Homs on Thursday, just hours after the government agreed to the Arab initiative.

Maleh said that the government's verbal acceptance of the Arab League initiative was useless until it acted upon it. "If the regime accepts the Arab League's initiative in talk, and it doesn't accept it in action on the ground, then that means it hasn't accepted the initiative."

Speaking on the sidelines of a conference in the United Arab Emirates, Maleh called on the UAE to withdraw its ambassador from Damascus and close accounts he said members of the Syrian government had opened in the Emirates after European sanctions forced them to send their money to Gulf banks.

"The members of the regime in Syria have transferred their assets to the Emirates and invested them there. For the Emirates, this is a source of revenue. But the money they are sending to the Emirates belongs to the Syrian people," said Maleh.

Maleh said foreign military intervention in Syria was out of the question, unless the United Nations orders Syria to halt the violence. If Syria ignored such a U.N. call, the world body could authorize force under article 7 of the U.N. charter.

"If such a decision against the Syrian regime based on Article 7 happens, then the Security Council can take military steps. But the United Nations must take this action, not (individual) countries," said Maleh.