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The Obama administration is suggesting its two-year strategy to engage Syrian President Bashar Assad and transform his government into a regional partner is over.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. can’t have a partnership with a government that is killing innocent people. She said the U.S. has made numerous overtures to Assad since 2009, but Assad has rejected them. There are limits to what the U.S. can do with a regime bent on violating the human rights of its citizens, she said.

The bluntness of Tuesday’s message reveals the administration’s exasperation with a government it has tried to reach out to, despite a long history of tense relations.

Nuland said the administration’s engagement policy has worked with some countries. But she said Assad has chosen a different path.

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