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Clinton: “We will do more” to help the Syrian opposition

The United States is moving toward more robust help for the Syrian opposition but has not yet decided to recognize the Syrian opposition or provide arms to any Syrian rebel groups, said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but the tide is turning in the rebels’ favor. "It appears as though the opposition is now capable ...

The United States is moving toward more robust help for the Syrian opposition but has not yet decided to recognize the Syrian opposition or provide arms to any Syrian rebel groups, said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but the tide is turning in the rebels' favor.

"It appears as though the opposition is now capable of holding ground and that they are better equipped and more able to bring the fight to the government forces," Clinton said at a conference Thursday sponsored jointly by the Foreign Policy Group and the State Department's Office of Policy Planning. "I don't know if you can say that the entire country is at a tipping point, but it certainly seems that the regime will be harder pressed in the coming months."

The United States is moving toward more robust help for the Syrian opposition but has not yet decided to recognize the Syrian opposition or provide arms to any Syrian rebel groups, said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but the tide is turning in the rebels’ favor.

"It appears as though the opposition is now capable of holding ground and that they are better equipped and more able to bring the fight to the government forces," Clinton said at a conference Thursday sponsored jointly by the Foreign Policy Group and the State Department’s Office of Policy Planning. "I don’t know if you can say that the entire country is at a tipping point, but it certainly seems that the regime will be harder pressed in the coming months."

Clinton denied a report Thursday by the Associated Press stating that the administration is already planning to recognize the new Syrian opposition council that the State Department was instrumental in helping establish. She also declined to confirm a New York Times report Thursday that the administration is considering providing direct arms to some members of the Syrian opposition.

"We’re constantly evaluating, we’re constantly taking action, and I’m sure we will do more in the weeks ahead," she said. "No other decisions have been made yet, but we consider them on almost a daily basis."

"We’re going to carefully consider what more we can do," Clinton said, promising an announcement of future U.S. moves at the next "Friends of Syria" meeting in Morocco in December.

Clinton did say that the Syrian opposition is moving toward a more unified, cohesive position on what the future of a post-Assad Syrian would look like. She also said that the United States is hoping to that the government and civic structures inside Syria could be preserved if and when the Assad regime falls.

"We’re doing what we can to support the opposition and also support those inside Syria within the local councils who are committed to the kind of continuity in Syrian governmental institutions so we don’t see a collapse and of disbandment of institutional forces that we know from our Iraq experience can be extremely dangerous," she said.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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