CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) Director John Brennan said yesterday that the United States does not want to see a collapse of the Syrian regime, as it could open the way to Islamist extremists taking power, the Times of Israel website reports today (March 14, 2015).
The spy agency chief said Washington had reason to worry about who might replace President Bashar Assad if his government fell, given the rise of the Islamic State (IS) group and other jihadists in Syria.
Speaking at an event at the Council on Foreign Relations, Brennan said that "extremist elements" -- including the IS group and Al-Qaeda veterans -- are "ascendant right now" in some parts of Syria.
"The last thing we want to do is allow them to march into Damascus. That's why it's important to bolster those forces within the Syrian opposition that are not extremists," Brennan said.