....The administration's view can also be seen in White House planning for limited airstrikes—now awaiting congressional review—to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons. Pentagon planners were instructed not to offer strike options that could help drive Mr. Assad from power: "The big concern is the wrong groups in the opposition would be able to take advantage of it," a senior military officer said. The CIA declined to comment.
....Many rebel commanders say the aim of U.S. policy in Syria appears to be a prolonged stalemate that would buy the U.S. and its allies more time to empower moderates and choose whom to support....Israeli officials have told their American counterparts they would be happy to see its enemies Iran, the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah and al Qaeda militants fight until they are weakened,
Earlier on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the timing of the chemical attack “suited” the opposition, “who obviously do not want to negotiate peacefully”, instead they want to “sabotage” the talks.
“Why go to a conference if you believe that the regime’s infrastructure will all be destroyed anyway by allies, and then you can just march into Damascus unopposed, and take control?” said the official in Moscow.