Frustrated by months of failure in Syria, the Obama administration is taking what might be its final offer to Moscow: Enhanced intelligence and military cooperation against the Islamic State and other extremist groups if Syria's Russian-backed president Bashar Assad upholds a ceasefire with U.S.-supported rebel groups and starts a political transition.
Dozens of State Department employees have endorsed an internal document that advocates U.S. military action to pressure Syria's government into accepting a cease-fire and engaging in peace talks, officials said Thursday. The position is at odds with U.S. policy.
The United States and Russia have persuaded Syria's government and moderate rebels to extend the country's fragile truce to the northern city of Aleppo, although sporadic clashes continue, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
Secretary of State John Kerry warned Syria's government and its backers in Moscow and Tehran on Tuesday that they face an August deadline for starting a political transition to move President Bashar Assad out, or they risk the consequences of a new U.S. approach toward ending the 5-year-old civil war.
The Obama administration is making the case that Iran is drawing down its elite fighting force from Syria in an effort to allay fears that Tehran is using its powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Syria to strengthen its influence across the Middle East. Yet the Iranian government said Monday it has dispatched commandos to the war and it is still taking high-ranking casualties.
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