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Congress rethinks anti-Assad stance

Senate Democrats are beginning to question regime-change goals amid Islamic State gains.
Syria's president Bashar al-Assad speaks during his meeting with the heads and members of public organizations and professional associations in Damascus, Syria, in this handout released by Syria's national news agency SANA on July 26, 2015. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Sunday the army had been forced to give up areas in order to hold onto more important ones in its fight with insurgents, and the scale of the war meant the military faced a manpower shortage. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters 

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A growing number of Democratic lawmakers are openly questioning whether toppling Syria's Bashar al-Assad should still be a priority amid steady gains by the Islamic State.

The issue came to a head Sept. 16 as a key Senate panel held its first IS hearing since the first batch of 54 US-trained rebels was routed in late July by al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra as soon as it entered Syria. Reports that Russia is beefing up Assad's forces with tanks, troops and artillery has only added to the calls of some Democrats for a new strategy.

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