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The attacks on Syrian targets are not aimed at ending the regime of President Bashar Assad, even though the United States called on that regime and its leader to step aside nearly seven years ago.Yet even as these assaults leave Assad with the title of president of the Syrian Arab Republic, they have the potential to do significant good.One year ago, the United States retaliated forcefully in the wake of an Assad regime chemical atrocity.If Russia is convinced that Assad's return to mass homicide will cause the United States to return militarily to Syria at times and places of its choosing, then perhaps this latest round of retaliation can persuade some in Assad's circle that a negotiated end to the violence and mutually agreed political transition are the best ways forward.
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