US revising Syria policy, official says

The Obama administration is revising its policy on Syria, said a top State Department official at a Senate hearing on Wednesday. 

“Many elements of that policy have not been successful. We are trying to revise our policy now,” Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Amb. Anne Patterson said at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Wednesday. 

Patterson said officials were looking to accelerate the shipment of equipment to Syrian rebels, as well as beef up border security assistance for U.S. allies in the region to prevent Islamic extremists from joining the fight, and step up humanitarian assistance. 

So far, she said 146,000 people have been killed, 2.5 million people have sought refugee, 6.5 million are displaced within Syria, and over 9 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. 

Tom Countryman, assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, said he was concerned that Syria has missed several deadlines under an international agreement to destroy its chemical weapons program.

Syria has agreed to remove all of its chemical weapons from its territory by the end of April. 

Countryman said that although almost half of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile has been shipped outside of Syria, only 35 percent of the most dangerous, or "priority one" chemical weapons have yet to move out of Syria, he said.

"There are no security or logistical reasons Syria cannot meet the deadline next month," he said.