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August 10, 2014 AT 12:42 PM
Distancing herself from President Barack Obama's foreign policy, potential 2016 U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said in an interview published on Sunday that the U.S. decision not to intervene early in the Syrian civil war was a "failure." Republican critics and others have faulted Obama for doing too little to support Syrians who rose up against President Bashar al-Assad. Syria has been torn apart by a civil war for three years, with Assad staying in power and Islamic militants among the opposition gaining strength. Clinton said in an interview with The Atlantic, "The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled." Clinton was Obama's secretary of state during his first term as president, stepping down in early 2013, so she was part of the administration during the start of the Syria uprising.