By BASSEM MROUE and KARIN LAUB
BEIRUT (AP) -- A fragile cease-fire brokered by the U.N. took hold in Syria on Thursday with regime forces apparently halting widespread attacks on the opposition, but there were reports of scattered violence and the government defied demands by international envoy Kofi Annan to pull troops back to barracks.
A civilian and a Syrian soldier were reported killed after the 6 a.m. cease-fire deadline, but there was no sign of the normally intense shelling, rocket attacks and sniper fire that have become routine.
If the truce holds, it would be the first time the regime has observed an internationally brokered cease-fire since Bashar Assad's regime launched a brutal crackdown 13 months ago on mass protests calling for his ouster.
However, troops intensified searches at checkpoints, tightening controls ahead of possible large-scale protests Friday called by the opposition and meant to test the regime's commitment to the Annan plan.
There was deep skepticism that the regime would halt its fire for long, given that Assad has broken promises in the past. Also, the regime said Wednesday, on the eve of the truce deadline, that it reserves the right to respond to any aggression, potentially a pretext for breaking the truce.
Annan's plan calls for the deployment of international observers and talks on a political transition once a truce is in place. The initiative has broad international support, including from Assad allies Russia, China and Iran, and is widely seen as the last chance for diplomacy to end the violence. The increasingly militarity presence, including checkpoints and snipers remain.
"There is no evidence of any significant withdrawal," she told reporters in Geneva. "The real test for us today is if people can go and demonstrate peacefully" she added. "This is the real reality check."
The group's leader, Burhan Ghalioun, urged Syrians to demonstrate peacefully on Friday, the day of weekly protests since the uprising began. "Tomorrow, like every Friday, the Syrian people are called to demonstrate even more and put the regime in front of its responsibilities -- put the international community in front of its responsibilities," he said.
Annan is to brief the U.N. Security Council by video conference from Geneva on Thursday afternoon.
Syria's state-run news agency, SANA, said a roadside bomb exploded near a bus carrying soldiers in the northern city of Aleppo, killing one officer.
And the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group, said a man was shot dead in the central town of Safsafiyeh in Hama province. The group gave no further details, but Mousab Hamadee, an area activist, said troops shot and killed the man who was apparently wanted by the authorities and tried to flee a checkpoint where he was stopped.
Troops opened also fire in several areas in the northern province of Idlib, but there were no reports of casualties, said activist Fadi al-Yassin. Al-Yassin said troops were taking strict measures at checkpoints, asking people to leave the car and then searching them thoroughly. He said lines of cars are stretching for hundreds of meters (yards) at checkpoints.
A grassroots opposition group, the Local Coordination Committees, said regime forces carried out arrests in the Damascus suburb of Maadamiyah shortly after reinforcements entered the area. It also reported anti-regime protests at universities in the southern city of Daraa and the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, and a protest march in the northern village of Tamanaa. e across the Turkish border on Monday, killing two people in a Turkish refugee camp.
Associated Press writers Frank Jordans in Geneva and Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara, Turkey, contributed reporting.