Assad regime could still fall: US defense chief

"I believe we must renew the bonds of trust and rebuild the bridge between the Pentagon and Silicon Valley," US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter (pictured) said in an April speech in California (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)

Washington (AFP) - Despite surviving more than four years of civil war, the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad might still fall, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Wednesday.

"We would like to see a transition in which Assad disappears from the scene," Carter testified before the House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee.

"That is possible because his forces are much weakened," Carter added.

Government forces are more and more isolated in and around Damascus and in the Alawite-majority region of the northwest of the country, Carter said.

"The best way for the Syrian people for this to go would be for him to remove himself from the scene," Carter said.

The complex war in Syria involves the government, moderate rebels, Kurds and jihadists.

More than 230,000 people have been killed in Syria since the war began in March 2011.