President Barack Obama opens the door of the Oval Office to go to a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on Saturday, May 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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WASHINGTON: Since Syrians rose up more than three years ago against longtime President Bashar al-Assad, U.S. President Barack Obama has had a clear message: Assad must go.Now, even as the United States seeks to increase support to moderate rebels to fight his regime, U.S. officials privately concede Assad isn't going anywhere soon.Despite that support, senior U.S. officials acknowledge in interviews the difficulty of removing Assad, who said in April the three-year war had swung decisively in his favor.Details of the new U.S. assistance are largely unclear, but a proposed counterterrorism fund may help Syria's neighbors such as Jordan manage the flow of weapons, refugees and extremists out of Syria, a senior U.S. defense official said. The U.S. military may also train moderate rebels outside Syria, the officials said.Under the threat of U.S. airstrikes, Assad agreed with the United States and Russia in September to dispose of Syria's entire chemical weapons arsenal.
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