A Free Syrian Army fighter talks with a resident in a damaged street in Old Aleppo, Syria. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail
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Failure of Syria diplomacy exposes enduring divisions over AssadWhile the desperate flight of Syrians from their country's war was dominating news bulletins this summer, yet another diplomatic push to end the 4-year-old conflict was quietly running into the sand. As a consequence, Syria looks set for ever greater fragmentation into a patchwork of territories, one of them the diminishing Damascus-based state where Assad appears confident of survival with backing from his Russian and Iranian allies.Russia's foreign minister in recent days reiterated the Russian view that Assad is a legitimate leader, slammed the U.S. position to the contrary as "counterproductive," and likened the West's approach to Syria to its failures in Iraq and Libya.Russia meanwhile continues to supply Assad with weapons.Assad has wagered on the West rehabilitating him as a partner in the war against ISIS.But while the priority for U.S. policy in Syria today is battling ISIS, not unseating Assad, Washington has stuck by its position that he is part of the problem, saying his brutality has fueled extremism.While insisting Assad must go, U.S. officials are not specific about when or how.In any case, Russia has rejected the idea of any prenegotiated exit for Assad.
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