Panetta: Aleppo Attacks Will Cause Assad’s Downfall
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, July 29, 2012 The Syrian regime’s attacks on the citizens of Aleppo ultimately will be “a nail in Assad’s coffin,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said today.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta gives an in flight press briefing while flying to Tunis, Tunisia, July 29, 2012. Panetta is on a five-day trip to the region, including stops in Tunisia, Egypt, Israel and Jordan. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Panetta is traveling to North Africa and the Middle East for a series of meetings, and Syria figures prominently in his conversations in Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia.
Bashar Assad’s forces have launched heavy attacks against Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. The violence that the regime is launching against its own people will ensure that the regime will fall eventually, Panetta told reporters traveling with him.
The international community has brought economic and diplomatic pressure on Syria to stop the violence and to have Assad step down for a transition to a democratic form of government. “The key right now is to continue to bring that pressure to bear on Syria to provide assistance to the opposition and to provide whatever humanitarian aid we can to assist the refugees,” Panetta said en route to Tunisia.
The United States must not do anything to show that the international community is anything other than unified in the effort to bring the Assad regime down, the secretary said.
Panetta also discussed the chemical and biological weapons sites in Syria that U.S. planners say need to be secured. “We’ve been in close coordination with countries in the region to ensure that this is happening,” the secretary said.
The United States also is working with Turkey and Jordan to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees from Syria.