US adamant it has not changed course in Syria
WASHINGTON - Anadolu AgencyThe United States has refuted speculation that suggested it is considering changes to its long-standing Syria policy of prioritizing the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“We maintain our belief that [President Bashar] al-Assad has lost all legitimacy and must go. There can never be a stable, inclusive Syria under his leadership,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Jan. 22.
The U.S. has called for al-Assad’s ouster since August 2011, but has stopped short of forcibly removing the embattled leader from power.
The New York Times said this week that Washington now appeared to be supporting the idea of a “more gradual change,” a shift now focusing more on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) instead of the al-Assad regime in Syria.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has recently said Washington is still telling Ankara it wants al-Assad to go, ruling out recent reports.
Russia, a staunch ally of al-Assad, had commended the U.S. for what it called Washington’s growing realization that ISIL militants presented the most serious threat in Syria.
Moscow is set to host peace talks Jan. 26-29 in Moscow between the government and the opposition, despite several high-profile opposition leaders’ refusal to join.
Psaki said the U.S. welcomed “any effort to make progress toward addressing Syrians’ core grievances and anything that would produce a sustainable solution to the conflict.”
Two previous rounds of peace talks in Geneva in 2014 failed to halt ongoing bloodshed.
At least in 2,000 people have died and millions have been displaced during the course of the nearly four-year civil war.