President Bashar al-Assad announced that his troops were beginning to evacuate areas in Syria in order to comply with the c ease fire program desired by UN negotiator Kofi Annan. It appears that some troops are leaving areas where they have crushed all opposition, and in areas where they still have opponents, troops have retreated a few miles but are still ready and able to enter and take care of opposition groups. There is no evidence that any of the thousands in jail will be released nor whether any members of the Syrian military who murdered at will face any sort of punishment.
Cynical Syrians interpret President Assad’s “withdrawal” of troops as simply a ploy to appease the international community while making certain he has the power to crush any group which opposes his one man rule. He might gain some trust by releasing from jail thousands of people who are arrested, brutalized and tortured. We doubt such action will occur.