Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fully accepted an Arab League peace plan on Wednesday to end seven months of violence and protests.
The Syrian delegation accepted the Arab League plan without reservations and in its entirety, a League official told Agence France Presse (AFP).
If Syrian officials adhere to the guidelines, it should end a violent military crackdown against protestors that has resulted in an estimated 3,000 deaths.
Assad's government agreed to release of people detained as a result of the recent events, the withdrawal of forces from towns and districts where there have been armed clashes, and the granting of access to the Arab League, and Arab and international media.
Even before the conflict began in March, Syria has refused to give Western journalists access to the country. Throughout the protests, state-run media have broadcast the message that the unrest was the work of armed gangs, agitators and foreign powers.
The next step of the peace process will be opening a dialog between Assad and the opposition. No location has been set, but opposition leaders would like them to be held outside the country, according to the AFP.
The United Nations and a number of international leaders have been urging Assad for months to end his crackdown and begin talking with the Syrian people. Now, the U.N. wants to make sure that Assad sticks to the Arab League plan.
[Assad] must implement the agreement as soon as possible as agreed, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said from a press conference in Tripoli.
People have suffered too much for too long and it's an unacceptable situation, he added. Killing civilians must stop immediately in Syria.
While the United Nations' praised the Arab League's intervention, some critics have reservations about Syria's true intentions.
Israel's Jerusalem Post is wary about what a Syria-Arab League cooperation might mean for the region.
Today, young Syrians protesting the Assad regime have managed, through courage and sacrifices, to generate hope for a better future. But lurking behind palatial closed doors are dark forces intent on asphyxiating Syrian freedom by presenting an alternative 'solution,' the paper's Farid Ghadry said this week.
The idea to merge Assad's evil with Islamist evil is an idea mutated in the kitchens of the Arab League and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to rob Syrians of their freedom, Ghadry added, suggesting that it was in the Arab League and Muslim Brotherhood's best interest to keep the regime intact and to avoid a Libya-esque revolution.
The uprising in Syria followed the Arab Spring movement, but has turned out to be bloodier than Egypt and Tunisia, and Assad has proved that he has a stronger hold on the country than Moammar Gadhafi did in Libya.
The situation has concerned many powers in the region, including traditional allies Turkey and Iran, both of whom tried to temper Assad.
Jordan's King Abdullah told CNN that he thought the situation was at a turning point.
I've spoken to Bashar twice. I have sent the chief of the royal court to see him on several occasions, Abdullah said. Not that we've got anything perfect, but... national dialogue and outreach -- and they're not really interested in what we have to say. So we're trying to keep the channels of communication open and watching with great concern how things are going to develop there.
Last month, the Obama administration pulled U.S. ambassador Robert Ford out of the country over credible threats against his personal safety, a government spokesperson told BBC.
In September, Ford was hit by eggs and tomatoes while visiting with opposition leaders, and he was later trapped in his office by pro-Assad demonstrators who stormed the embassy in Damascus.
We hope that the Syrian regime will end its incitement campaign against Ambassador Ford, State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters in Washington in October.
This decision was based solely on the need to ensure his safety, a matter we take extremely seriously.
Ford has vocalized his support for the anti-government protests, which began in March. The largely peaceful demonstrations have often deteriorated into clashes between the Syrian military and protestors, and around 4,000 people -- primarily unarmed demonstrators -- have been killed since the unrest began.
Ford has visited the city of Hama, one of the most active cities in the revolt, and seen the mass graves of Jisr ash-Shugur, where more than 300 people were killed during a protest in June.
The Siege of Jisr ash-Shugur has become one of the most important events in the uprising so far. Following a day of protesting, the Syrian army invaded the 40,000-person city with tanks and helicopters on June 4. According to reports, some of the government forces and police defected and joined the protestors, at which point the army was ordered to kill the mutineers.
The Syrian government blamed the violence on armed gangs who were targeting protestors and soldiers alike. In the days following the event, tens of thousands of Syrians fled into Turkey.