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Kerry: U.S. wants to hasten Assad’s fall

This news story was published on February 28, 2013.
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ROME, Feb. 28 (UPI) — Washington and allies plan new ways of speeding the Syrian regime’s fall, Secretary of State John Kerry said before an 11-nation conference with the opposition.

U.S. and allied officials are coming up with ways of convincing Syrian President Bashar Assad “he can’t shoot his way out of this,” Kerry told reporters in Paris before leaving for Rome for a Friends of Syria conference Thursday of world leaders and the Syrian Opposition Coalition.

“We are examining and developing ways to accelerate the political transition that the Syrian people want and deserve,” Kerry said.

“That may require us to change President Assad’s current calculation,” he added.

At the Rome meeting, Kerry’s offers to the opposition were expected to include non-lethal assistance such as body armor and armored vehicles that would go directly to opposition Free Syrian Army fighters doing battle with Assad in the 2-year-old conflict that has claimed some 70,000 lives.

The White House remains opposed to providing arms, despite pleas from the rebels and many top U.S. officials, administration officials said, although White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters, “We are constantly reviewing the nature of the assistance.”

“We will continue to analyze every feasible option that would accelerate a political transition to a post-Assad Syria,” Carney said in Washington.

The United States has already begun training Syrian rebels at a base in the region, The New York Times reported Thursday. The Washington Post first reported Wednesday the training was under consideration.

The size and scope of the rebel training mission is not clear, nor is the country where it’s being held, the Times said.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who met with Kerry in Paris Wednesday, joined Kerry in calling for increased support to the opposition.

“If we want to have a new regime, we have to encourage the opposition,” Fabius told reporters. “We have to help the situation to move.”

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, after meeting with Kerry in London Monday, said: “In the face of such murder and threat of instability, our policy cannot stay static as the weeks go by. We must significantly increase support for the Syrian opposition. We are preparing to do just that.”

In New York, Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari told al-Jazeera the Friends group should not simply meet with Syria’s opposition — it should sit, and insist the opposition also sit, with the Assad regime for an unconditional national dialogue.

“If they are really the Friends of Syria, they should care for all the Syrian people, not only part of the Syrian people, those who are refusing categorically to sit at the table of the national dialogue and calling for further destruction of the Syrian state,” Jaafari said.

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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One Response to Kerry: U.S. wants to hasten Assad’s fall

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    Mr Foad Reply Report comment

    February 28, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    I don’t believe that the US government should be in the job of regime change. It is not our business to pick the governments for other countries. Yes, the current Syrian government is nasty, but who knows what will follow if/when the current government falls. Will we end up with another Iraq? Look at where Egypt is heading.