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Fall of Syrian regime inevitable: US spy chief

(AFP)
Filed on February 1, 2012

WASHINGTON ó Syrian President Bashar al-Assadís regime will inevitably collapse in the face of mounting protests, the US spy chief said Tuesday.

“I do not see how he can sustain his rule of Syria,” James Clapper, director of national intelligence, told senators.

“I personally believe it’s a question of time but that’s the issue, it could be a long time.”

The opposition was “fragmented” but was piling growing pressure on Assad, said Clapper, adding that it remained unclear what would follow after the Syrian leader’s departure.

CIA director David Petraeus, testifying at the same hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, also described the regime as increasingly at risk.

The opposition had displayed “resilience” and the regime now faced challenges in Damascus and Aleppo, two cities that had been seen as insulated from the unrest, said Petraeus, a retired four-star general who served as commander in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I think it has shown indeed how substantial the opposition to the regime is and how it is in fact growing and how increasing areas are becoming beyond the reach of the regime security forces,” he said.

The fall of Assad’s regime would deliver a major blow to Iran, which relies on Syria as a vital logistics link to Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, he said.


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