Panetta: Fall of Syrian regime a ‘matter of time’


It is “a matter of time” before the Syrian regime headed by President Bashar al-Assad is ousted from power by a popular uprising, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said on Monday.

Speaking in Tel Aviv after meeting his Israeli counterpart, Panetta said Washington and other foreign capitals had “made clear Assad should step down.”

“While he continues to resist, I think it’s very clear that it’s a matter of time before that (exit) in fact happens. When it does, we don’t know,” he said.

The Pentagon chief, in a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories on Monday, said Assad’s regime had lost all credibility after a brutal crackdown that has killed at least 2,700 people, according to the United Nations.

“Anytime you kill your own people as indiscriminately as they have over these last number of months, it’s pretty clear that they have lost their legitimacy as a government,” Panetta said at a news conference with Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak.

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