News / Middle East

    Panetta: Aleppo Attacks Might Spell End to Assad Government

    Defense Secretary Leon Panetta talks during a news conference at the Pentagon, June 29, 2012.Defense Secretary Leon Panetta talks during a news conference at the Pentagon, June 29, 2012.
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    Defense Secretary Leon Panetta talks during a news conference at the Pentagon, June 29, 2012.
    Defense Secretary Leon Panetta talks during a news conference at the Pentagon, June 29, 2012.

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    Luis Ramirez
    TUNIS — U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says increasing attacks by Syrian forces on the city of Aleppo could bring an end of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  Panetta made the comments as he traveled to the region on Sunday.  
     
    Panetta spoke as he flew to Tunis on the start of a five-day trip to build military relations with the emerging governments in Tunisia and Egypt, countries that were part of last year's Arab Spring popular uprisings.  The trip will also include visits to Israel and Jordan. 
     
    The defense secretary said he has congratulations for the people of Tunisia and Egypt for carrying out what he says have been generally peaceful transitions.  But with regard to Syria, Panetta stressed that the increasing violence by Syrian forces could soon bring the fall of the Assad government. 
     
    "If they continue this kind of tragic attack on their own people in Aleppo, I think it ultimately will be a nail in Assad's coffin [i.e., the end of his government]," he said. 
     
    Panetta said it is no longer a question of whether, but when the Assad government end. "What Assad has been doing to his own people and what he continues to do to his own people makes clear that his regime is coming to an end.  It's lost all legitimacy," he said. 
     
    Panetta gave no indication that the United States plans to take any new action to stop Syrian government attacks on civilians.  Panetta said the key is to continue increasing economic and diplomatic pressure on the Assad government and boost humanitarian aid for refugees who have been fleeing Syria, mainly to Turkey and Jordan.
     
    Later this the week, the defense secretary is scheduled to travel to Jerusalem, where he will meet with Israeli leaders.  On the agenda will likely be Iran's nuclear program and the possibility of an Israeli preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, something the Obama administration has wanted to prevent. 
     
    The Obama administration says it hopes international sanctions will curtail Tehran's nuclear ambitions.  But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said sanctions and diplomacy have not set back Iran's nuclear program.  Tehran says its atomic program is for peaceful purposes.
     
    Panetta on Sunday said Israel has not made a decision on whether to launch a preemptive attack.

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    Comments
         
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    July 31, 2012 2:18 PM
    Military cooperation, did you say? Well, but keep it low keyed. Remember any aid given will be stored in order to be used against Israel when the next round of Arab-Israeli war begins, which all arabs and islamists are seriously preparing for with every resource at their disposal. The US should not mistakenly contribute to the build up of arms to attack Israel in the name of building military cooperation with the enemy armies. As for Obama, the US should take actions in agreement with its policy not what suits him and his gravitation toward islamism. I mean that the military aid should not contribute to Iran's construction of nuclear weaponry - this is what all islamists are looking up to - and then the terrorists would be on top of the world. For all Arab and islamic countries are making secret contributions to Iran's nuclear weapons program.

    by: Plain Mirror from: Abidjan
    July 30, 2012 4:31 AM
    For long now, Obama has been operating on youthful exoberance. Over-stepping of mandates! Living without regards for a nations constitution. Forceful infusion of his loyalists in power and all other arrogancy. Today Obama is mature because the bitter consequencies of his unconsitutional and violent actions on people of Ivory coast and Libya is still on the faces of the victimised people. He has learnt his lessons and has come to terms that violent often does not bring the solution. Bravo Obama! You are now mature to an extent. I wished you would keep it up. Then as a mark of warning!! Israel and US should watch their steps towards any military attack on Iran. It would cost the world what it never bargained for. Be warned!!

    by: Anonymous
    July 30, 2012 12:25 AM
    You can only kick a poodle so many times before it bites you. It's a matter of time before Assad is captured and held accountable by his own people for the deaths of so many innocent civillians. I wish a couple thousand Syrians would just storm his palace and put an end to this bloodshed once and for all.

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