On the Record

Syrian Government Agrees To Withdraw Forces

Tamara Cofman Wittes

Editor’s Note: United Nations Peace Envoy Kofi Annan announced April 10, 2012 as the date the Syrian government has agreed to end its assault and pull troops from major cities. Tamara Cofman Wittes discusses this development in Syria on NPR’s All Things Considered.

AUDIE CORNISH (NPR): To start with news of the day, is it likely that Syrian forces will truly pull back and adhere to a ceasefire just eight days from now?

TAMARA COFMAN WITTES: Given the pace of operations on the ground, it may be that the Syrian government’s judged that that will give it enough time to achieve more gains against rebels in some of the urban areas where they’ve been attacking. But it may also be that this is yet another play for time by the Syrian regime looking for a way to run out the clock as much as they can through this diplomatic activity.

CORNISH: Over the weekend, the U.S. and others discussed the idea of pledging money to pay salaries to opposition fighters, and the U.S., of course, offering communication support. But for so long, people have talked about not sending arms to the region. How does this pledge of cash to pay fighters, how is this different?

WITTES: It could very easily amount to the same thing on the ground. If there’s cash available, it could be used to buy weapons. It can be used to buy medical supplies, all sorts of other things that fighters need to keep going.

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Listen to the full interview or read the transcript »