Syria’s Assad can stay: US | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 19, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 19, 2018

Syria’s Assad can stay: US

The United States said Monday it was no longer seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but renewed warnings it would not fund reconstruction unless the regime is "fundamentally different."

James Jeffrey, the US special representative in Syria, said that Assad needed to compromise as he had not yet won the brutal seven-year civil war, estimating that some 100,000 armed opposition fighters remained in Syria.

"We want to see a regime that is fundamentally different. It's not regime change -- we're not trying to get rid of Assad," Jeffrey said at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank.

Estimating that Syria would need $300-400 billion to rebuild, Jeffrey warned that Western powers and international financial institutions would not commit funds without a change of course.

Former president Barack Obama had called for Assad to go, although he doubted the wisdom of a robust US intervention in the complex Syrian war and kept a narrow military goal of defeating the IS extremist group.

President Donald Trump's administration has acknowledged, if rarely so explicitly, that Assad is likely to stay.

But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned in October that the United States would not provide "one single dollar" for Syria's reconstruction if Iran stays.

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