Jul 29, 2012 5:12 PM by Matt Stafford
TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) - U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says Syrian President Bashar Assad is hastening his own demise by using helicopter gunships to kill civilians.
Panetta said the tactic ultimately will be "a nail in Assad's coffin."
The Pentagon chief commented to reporters Sunday en route from Washington to Tunisia, where he will meet leaders of the new Islamist government Monday and visit a U.S. World War II military cemetery.
Panetta also will visit Egypt, Israel and Jordan this week. He said his goal is to affirm U.S. support for stability in the Middle East and North Africa at a time of political tumult and possible democratic transitions.