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Panetta: Violence in Syria spinning out of control

Panetta: Syria violence spinning out of control, peaceful transition from Assad essential By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says U.S. is very concerned that the escalating violence in Syria is "rapidly spinning out of control."

Panetta told a Pentagon news conference Wednesday "it is more essential than ever" that the U.S. and the international community work through the U.N. to bring pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down and begin a peaceful transition.

Panetta appeared with British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond. They also expressed concern that Syria's large chemical weapons stocks be safeguarded.

A bomb ripped through a high-level security meeting Wednesday in the Syrian capital, killing the defense minister as well as Assad's brother-in-law in the harshest blow to the government's inner circle in the 16-month uprising.

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