BEIRUT -- Two deadly car bombs and sporadic fighting marred a shaky holiday truce yesterday in Syria, but thousands of protesters used the brief respite in the civil war to pour into the streets and demand President Bashar Assad's ouster.
Chants of "Syria wants freedom!" rang out in the streets in the largest demonstrations in months, suggesting that a 19-month-old crackdown and sustained violence have not broken the spirit of those trying to rid the country of Assad's rule.
But even if a cease-fire holds for the intended four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, it's unlikely to be a springboard for ending the conflict that has already claimed more than 35,000 lives.
Syria mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy, has not charted a way forward or said how he would bridge the deep divide between Assad and his opponents. The Syrian president won't resign, and the opposition says it won't negotiate a transition deal until he does.
Brahimi did not set clear terms for the truce, perhaps to reduce the possibility of failure. He said only that it should be in effect during the four-day holiday, but made no arrangements for monitoring compliance.
A few hours after the truce took effect, a car bomb in a residential area of Damascus killed 10 people and wounded more than 30, Syrian state media said.
Another rigged car went off near an army checkpoint in the southern city of Deraa, killing three soldiers, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which compiles reports from a network of activists.