US defense chief: Syria military must remain intact

By REUTERS
July 31, 2012 03:04



WASHINGTON - Government forces in Syria should be held together when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is forced from power, the US defense secretary said on Monday, warning that the mistakes of the Iraq war must not be repeated.




Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in an interview with CNN during a visit to Tunisia, said maintaining stability in Syria would be important under any scenario that sees Assad leave power.




"I think it's important when Assad leaves, and he will leave, to try to preserve stability in that country," Panetta said.




"The best way to preserve that kind of stability is to maintain as much of the military and police as you can, along with security forces, and hope that they will transition to a democratic form of government. That's the key."



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