Report: US held secret communications with Syrian government

WASHINGTON - US officials held secret communications with members of President Bashar Assad's government to try to limit violence in Syria, and explored ways to encourage a military coup in 2011 as the civil war got under way, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
American intelligence officials identified army officers belonging to Assad's minority Alawite sect who could lead a coup, but they found few weak spots to exploit, the Journal said, citing interviews with more than two dozen people, including current and former US officials.
The moves were made as Assad's government began cracking down on protests and soldiers started leaving the army, the Journal said.
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