12 things you need to know about the US and Bashar al-Assad


The US may be compelled to work with Bashar al-Assad, publicly or covertly, if Isis appears on the brink of taking Aleppo from anti-government rebels.


The US has already indirectly helped the Syrian regime by passing on information about jihadi positions via the German intelligence agency the BND.


Tabqa airbase, in the Isis stronghold of Raqqa province, is under siege from jihadists. If it was to fall, Isis would have a clear run on Hama, the country's fourth-largest city.


On Thursday, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff in Washington, General Martin Dempsey, answered his own question by asking: "Can [Isis] be defeated without addressing that part of the organisation that resides in Syria? The answer is no."


The US understands that Isis can survive forever if it has a safe-haven in Syria and that a consistent policy towards the self-styled Islamic State on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian divide is needed.


Chas Freeman, former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told The Independent that General Dempsey's comments "imply the sharing of intelligence with the opponents of Isis, even those from whom we ourselves are estranged. Odder things have happened in the Middle East".

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