Peter Kenyon

After months of relentless shelling and gunfire, activists in Syria reported a quieter daybreak Thursday, as a ceasefire arranged by U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan appeared to be largely holding.

Opposition figures said rebel fighters inside Syria would abide by the truce as long as the Syrian military does, while the government says its forces will return fire if attacked. Annan is hoping to progress from the cease-fire to getting humanitarian assistance into the country, and eventually to political negotiations.

In Egypt, next month's presidential election has undergone a wrenching several days.

First, leading Islamist candidates faced possible disqualification on legal grounds, and then, hours before the deadline to register, a leading face from the regime of Hosni Mubarak jumped into the race.

The appearance of 75-year-old Omar Suleiman, Mubarak's former intelligence chief, has sparked fears that the military council running the country is maneuvering to bring back the old regime.

U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan says the Syrian government should be the first to enact a cease-fire, but there was no sign of that on Friday. More violence erupted in several Syrian cities as diplomats prepared for Sunday's meeting of the "Friends of Syria" in Istanbul, Turkey.

The gathering comes at a time of growing disaffection with diplomatic efforts and an increase in attacks by Syrian opposition fighters.

The rising civilian death toll in Syria is accompanied by mounting calls to arm the Syrian opposition. And Turkey, a NATO country that shares a long, rugged border with Syria, is often mentioned as a likely transit point.

Turkey has become increasingly critical of the Syrian regime, but Ankara is thus far reluctant to send significant arms across the border or use its large military to create a humanitarian corridor inside Syria.

The Syrian regime's heavy crackdown on dissent has led to a sharp plunge in relations with neighboring Turkey. But the regime does have its Turkish supporters — mainly members of the Alawite minority, the same Islamic sect Syria's ruling Assad family comes from. And that has resulted in complicated loyalties among some Turks, especially those along the border in southeastern Turkey's Hatay province.