While Obama administration officials still claim that a permanent political solution to the Syrian crisis requires Bashar al-Assad to step down, the U.S. has slowly shifted its actual day-to-day opposition to the leader. The U.S. has consistently assured Assad that he and his forces are not the targets of American air campaigns, shared the skies with his military, and have focused the efforts of insurgents toward ISIS, not the regime. The reasoning, according to the report in The New York Times, is that the U.S. now admits that if Assad were to be ousted, all remaining checks on extremism in the region would disappear. Meanwhile, Russia is trying to host negotiations in Moscow in late January to push for a proposal of power-sharing between Assad and some of his opponents.
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