Assad will go - senior NATO official

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iol pic wld assad_syria AFP Syrians protesters step on President Bashar al-Assad's portrait during an anti-regime demonstration in the old city of Aleppo on November 16, 2012.

Moscow - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is unlikely to be able to stay in power, a senior NATO official said on Friday.

Knud Bartels, a Danish general who chairs NATO's Military Committee, also said the Western alliance was drafting plans for safeguarding Syria's chemical weapons stocks if Assad stepped down or was forced from power.

“You may say I am maybe assuming that Assad will disappear. I tend to believe that this is indeed the case,” Bartels said after a meeting in Moscow.

Answering a question about strategies over the conflict in Syria, he said NATO's greatest concern was over the security of Turkey, which borders Syria.

NATO agreed last week to send Patriot missiles to Turkey to protect it against the threat of missiles from Syria and the alliance's secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said on Thursday that Assad's government was nearing collapse. - Reuters

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