White House: Assad will never rule 'all of Syria' again

Bashar Assad will never again rule “all of Syria,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday, apparently suggesting that the Obama administration may resolve itself to an indefinite stalemate in the 28-month-old conflict. 

The administration has repeatedly said it wants Assad to go, and Carney reiterated Thursday that “Syria's future and its hope lies in a post-Assad government that respects the rights of all of its people.” But he repeatedly suggested that Assad may retain some form of control over parts of the country.

“The opposition continues to fight back and resist Assad,” he said. “And while there are ups and downs on the battlefield and changes in momentum, the fact is, Bashar al-Assad will never again rule Syria in the way that he did before.” 

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When pressed to clarify his remarks, Carney repeated himself.

“Our view is that there is no circumstances under which Bashar al-Assad will enjoy or reclaim, rather, his ironclad rule over Syria,” he said. “I think what I meant is that his time as … basically, dictator of Syria and the ironclad ruler of Syria is over. And while there are shifts in momentum on the battlefield, Bashar al-Assad, in our view, will never rule all of Syria again.”

The remarks come as Syrian rebels are complaining that the administration has yet to send the weapons it promised a month ago after President Obama concluded that Assad's forces had used chemical weapons.

Separately, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday accused Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey of making “pirouettes” in his support for Syria's rebels and said he'd hold up his nomination for another two-year term until he gets answers to his questions about U.S. support for Syria.

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