U.S. to focus on toppling Syrian government


Eric Schmitt and Helene Cooper
New York Times
July 22, 2012

The Obama administration has for now abandoned efforts for a diplomatic settlement to the conflict in Syria, and instead it is increasing aid to the rebels and redoubling efforts to rally a coalition of like-minded countries to forcibly bring down the government of President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials say.

Administration officials have been in talks with officials in Turkey and Israel over how to manage a Syrian government collapse. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is headed to Israel in the next several days to meet with Israeli defense counterparts, following up on a visit last week by President Obama’s national security adviser Thomas Donilon, to discuss, in part, the Syrian crisis.

The administration has been holding regular talks with the Israelis about how Israel might move to destroy Syrian weapons facilities, administration officials said. The administration is not advocating such an attack, the officials said, because of the risk that it would give Assad an opportunity to rally support against Israeli interference.

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