22:42 GMT +323 May 2019
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    US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate(MEF) meeting on September 29, 2015 in New York

    US Changes Policy on Syria: No More Calls for Immediate Toppling of Assad

    © AFP 2019 / Kena Betancur
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    The US has changed its policy on Syria: instead of calling for the immediate ousting of Syrian President Assad, it now says it should be an “orderly, managed transition” unlike the one the US pursued in Iraq, US Secretary of State John Kerry said in his interview with CNN.

    “For a period of time, all of the coalition was saying he [Bashar Assad] had to leave immediately, that was the original statement way back,” said the US secretary of state.

    Kerry: Assad must transition 'orderly'
    Kerry: Assad must transition 'orderly'

    “We’ve changed that. Over a period of time we said no, that is not going to work. We need to have an orderly transition, managed transition so that you don’t have fearful retribution, loss of life, you don’t have a vacuum, you don’t have an implosion. All of these things are legitimate concerns.”

    “So, we concluded that it would be better and perhaps stand a better chance of reaching the mutual consent. If it was done over a reasonable period of time so that you have a strong sustaining of the delivery of whatever government services are left, there are not many, frankly. But to hold the institutions themselves, you have to have something there to build on, unlike Iraq years ago, where you can actually begin to put together a government and a future of Syria.”

    Meanwhile, the US has suspended pulling new recruits from the battlefield in Syria for training outside the country as the US military program to forge a force of moderate rebels is under review, Reuters quotes a Pentagon spokesman as saying on Tuesday.

    "As we review the program, we have paused the actual movement of new recruits from Syria," said Peter Cook, the Pentagon spokesman. "We also continue to provide support for current forces on the ground and to train the cohorts currently in the program."

    The program has been troubled from its inception, the agency says, with some of the first class of less than 60 fighters coming under attack from al Qaeda's Syria wing, the Nusra Front, in their battlefield debut.

    Some were killed or captured, and the whereabouts of 18 fighters in the first class are unknown, the agency quotes a US military spokesman as saying.

    Some of the US-trained rebels handed over some of their equipment to Nusra last week in return for safe passage, in violation of program guidelines.

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    Tags:
    ousting, toppling, change, review, policy, Bashar al-Assad, John Kerry, Syria, United States
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