US hosts a meeting that focuses on Syria after the fall of Assad


Two dozen countries that have concentrated on supporting Syria’s political opposition will meet today amid increasing signs that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad is losing control inside the country, along its borders and over its military, a U.S. official said yesterday.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will host the meeting of foreign ministers on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly, according to the official, who was not authorized to speak on the record.

The group will discuss an intensifying humanitarian crisis that’s displaced 1 million people internally and sent 294,000 refugees to neighboring countries, with as many as 3,000 more fleeing every day, according to the website of the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees.

Clinton will lead discussion about increasing pressure on the Syrian regime, as well as ways to hold regime officials accountable for crimes. The foreign ministers will focus mainly on ways to support the opposition, the U.S. official said.

That support is becoming increasingly focused on preparing the opposition to run Syria after the fall of the regime, which is slipping, the official said. Opposition members, some of whom will be at today’s meeting, have increasingly requested training in managing municipal services the government no longer handles, the official said.

Their concerns are about maintaining daily life: ensuring that electricity flows and bakeries still can make and sell bread. The U.S. and other countries see the training as a way to help them be ready when al-Assad’s government eventually falls.