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Clinton Says Assad's Days Are Numbered


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attends at an international conference on Afghan civilian assistance in Tokyo, July 8, 2012.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attends at an international conference on Afghan civilian assistance in Tokyo, July 8, 2012.

TOKYO - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says opposition attacks in Syria are stepping up pressure on the government.

Secretary Clinton says mounting military defections and bolder opposition attacks in Damascus are further isolating Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. She told reporters in Tokyo Sunday that it is time his government realizes "the sand is running out of the hourglass."

Clinton said, "There is no doubt that the opposition is getting more effective in their defense of themselves and in going on the offense against the Syrian military and the Syrian government's militias. So the future, to me, should be abundantly clear to those who support the Assad regime: the days are numbered."

She says the sooner violence stops and a political transition process begins the fewer people will die, and the Syrian state could be saved from what she calls "a catastrophic assault that would be very dangerous not only to Syria, but to the region."

U.N. Chief's Effort Failing

U.N. and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has been working for months on a political transition even as the cease-fire he negotiated collapsed.

In an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde, Annan said, “Evidently, we have not succeeded.”

Asked about that admission in a question-and-answer session alongside Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba, Secretary Clinton said Annan's acknowledgement "should be a wake-up call to everyone."

The top U.S. diplomat continued, "And therefore the parties, principally the government, have to ask themselves what is the alternative?"

She says Annan is admitting the obvious: that he has not yet been able to convince the Syrian government to "wake up and recognize the path they are on."

Assad Still Has Some Backers

The Assad government says it is fighting foreign-backed terrorists and continues to enjoy the support of Russia, China and Iran.

Secretary Clinton says it is "intolerable" that permanent U.N. Security Council members Russia and China are hampering efforts to end the Syrian conflict.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin says her comments are "totally unacceptable" and China's stance on Syria has wide support among members of the international community.
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