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Hagel: Taking out Assad won't put IS 'back in the box'

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel shot down reports that the Obama administration is considering a change of targets in its fight against the Islamic State.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel speaks next to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey during the House Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 13, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY CONFLICT) - RTR4E1FT

Senior US officials denied Nov. 13 that the Obama administration is considering making the removal of Bashar al-Assad a key plank in its strategy to defeat the Islamic State (IS).

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey told lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee that the focus remains on helping Iraqi forces defeat the Sunni militant group inside Iraq. The remarks follow a CNN report Nov. 12 indicating a rethink inside the White House amid complaints from coalition partners such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia that want Assad removed.

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