International envoy Kofi Annan has said he expects the Syrian government to implement an agreed ceasefire immediately.

A spokesman for Mr Annan said he wanted the authorities to halt the use of heavy weaponry in towns and to withdraw soldiers to barracks because then the opposition would respond.

Mr Annan's ceasefire appeal came as monitors said shells rained down on Homs, a city which has been the focus of much of President Bashar al-Assad's year-long crackdown on opposition protests.

Syria declared today that it had defeated those seeking to bring down the regime while reiterating support for the UN-Arab peace plan.

Foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdisi, cited by the official SANA news agency, also said that Syrian troops would withdraw from urban areas once they had been stabilised.

The United Nations says more than 9,000 people have been killed in the crackdown by forces of President Bashar al-Assad on an Arab Spring-inspired uprising that began a year ago with pro-democracy protests.

"The battle to topple the state is over, and the battle to solidify stability... and move on towards a renewed Syria has begun," Mr Makdisi said in an interview originally carried on state television.

The spokesman said Mr Assad government's focus was also to "rally visions behind the reform process" and "prevent those who seek to sabotage reform."

Troops would withdraw from urban areas once they were secured, he said, adding Mr Annan acknowledged there were "illegitimate armed elements within the opposition."

"The presence of the Syrian Arab army in Syrian cities is for defensive purposes [so] as to protect the civilians," Mr Makdisi was quoted as saying by SANA.

"Once peace and security prevail, the army is to pull out," he added.