14:00 GMT +319 February 2019
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    Syrians walk past a giant campaign billboard of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on June 1, 2014 in the capital Damascus

    CIA Chief Says Washington Against 'Collapse' of Syrian Government

    © AFP 2018 / JOSEPH EID
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    CIA Director John Brennan has said that the United States does not want to see the collapse of President Al-Assad's government in Syria, which he warned may help Islamist militants seize power.

    Washington is unwilling to see the demise of Syria's government because it may finally lead to Islamist militants coming to power in Syria, according to CIA Director John Brennan.

    He said that Washington is concerned about a possible ouster of President Bashar al-Assad due to the rise of the Islamic State, which has already seized large areas of Iraq and Syria, forcing millions to flee the country.

    "I think that's a legitimate concern, Brennan said, in reference to the White House's fears over who might succeed Assad in the future.

    He singled out an array of "extremist elements", including the Islamic State militants and al-Qaeda veterans, who he said are "ascendant right now" in some parts of Syria.

    "The last thing we want to do is allow them to march into Damascus. That's why it's important to bolster those forces within the Syrian opposition that are not extremists," Brennan said.

    He stressed that "none of us, Russia, the United States, coalition, and regional states, wants to see a collapse of the government and political institutions in Damascus."

    His remarks came as State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki made a fresh call for President Al-Assad to stand down.

    Psaki pointed out that without Al-Assad's resignation, it would be impossible "to fully stabilize" Syria.


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    Bashar al-Assad, Daesh, power, ouster, militants, collapse, John Brennan, Syria, United States
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