Washington Begins to Plan for Collapse of Syrian Government

Thursday, July 19, 2012
By Paul Martin

By HELENE COOPER
NYTimes.com
July 18, 2012

WASHINGTON — With the growing conviction that the Assad family’s 42-year grip on power in Syria is coming to an end, Obama administration officials worked on contingency plans Wednesday for a collapse of the Syrian government, focusing particularly on the chemical weapons that Syria is thought to possess and that President Bashar al-Assad could try to use on opposition forces and civilians.

Pentagon officials were in talks with Israeli defense officials about whether Israel might move to destroy Syrian weapons facilities, two administration official said. The administration is not advocating such an attack, the American officials said, because of the risk that it would give Mr. Assad an opportunity to rally support against Israeli interference.

President Obama’s national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, was in Israel over the weekend and discussed the Syrian crisis with officials there, a White House official said.

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