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US must accept 'political reality' regarding Assad: White House

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

The White House has said that the US must understand the "political reality" in Syria and accept the future of President Bashar al-Assad is for Syrians to decide.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Friday that the administration of former President Barack Obama missed an opportunity to oust Assad but current circumstances do not allow the US to take action against the Syrian president.

 “There is a political reality that we have to accept in terms of where we are right now,” Spicer said.

"We had an opportunity and we need to focus now on defeating ISIS," Spicer said using an acronym for the Daesh terrorist group.  "The United States has profound priorities in Syria and Iraq and we've made it clear that counterterrorism, particularly the defeat of ISIS, is foremost among those priorities."

Speaking in Turkey on Thursday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made similar statements regarding Assad.

"I think the longer term status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people," Tillerson told a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara.

Later on Thursday, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said the United States is no longer interested in removing Assad.

"Our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out," she said. "Our priority is to really look at how do we get things done, who do we need to work with to really make a difference for the people in Syria.”

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks during a joint news conference with the Turkish Foreign Minister in Ankara, on March 30, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The remarks are a departure from the position of the former administration, which made any resolution of the Syrian crisis conditional on President Assad’s stepping down.

In his first interview after winning the November 8 presidential election, Trump told The Wall Street Journal that he had “an opposite view of many people regarding Syria.”

Trump said the United States should fight the Daesh terrorist group, and stop attacking the Assad government.

He suggested a sharper focus on fighting the Takfiri group rather than trying to oust President Assad.

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