The U.S. has limited its aid so far to humanitarian relief and communications equipment while trying to help the opposition come up with a blueprint for a post-Assad future, which the U.S. says is only a question of time. The approach aims to avoid a repeat of the post-Saddam chaos in Iraq by preventing sectarian strife and ensuring that the state continues to supply water, electricity and other basic services. Officials have called this regime change with a "soft landing."
Obama reiterated his call for Assad to step down, while offering a realistic assessment of the chances for a peaceful solution.
"So far he hasn't gotten the message, and instead has doubled down in violence on his own people," the president said. "The international community has sent a clear message that rather than drag his country into civil war, he should move in the direction of a political transition. But at this point the likelihood of a soft landing seems pretty distant."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.