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US no longer insisting Assad must leave

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The Donald Trump White House has changed course on the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in a complete departure from the previous administration's policy, a U.S. official said Friday. reports that no longer must the Syrian leader, who stands accused of widespread war crimes over the course of his country's six-year civil war, leave office, the White House said in the latest such acknowledgement.

"There is a political reality that we have to accept in terms of where we are right now.," spokesman Sean Spicer said.

Spicer blamed the Barack Obama administration for failing to facilitate Assad's departure, saying "there is not the opposition that existed last time and the opportunities that existed last time.

"We need to focus on now defeating ISIS, but the United States has profound priorities in Syria and Iraq and we've made it clear that counterterrorism, particularly the defeat of ISIS, is foremost among those priorities," he added.

ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is another name for Daesh.

Spicer's comments echo those of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the U.S.'s UN envoy Nikki Haley who made similar remarks Thursday.

But the White House's comments mark in many ways the fulfillment of Trump's election rhetoric.

Trump was doubtful on the campaign trail about the consequences of toppling Assad, publicly questioning whether it would improve the situation in Syria, and he repeatedly cast doubts about the intentions of the country's rebels

2017.04.01 / 09:29
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