Last year’s agreement to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons left President Bashar al-Assad in a strengthened position, and there appears little chance rebels will soon force him from power, the U.S. intelligence chief told Congress on Tuesday.

“The prospects are right now that (Assad) is actually in a strengthened position than when we discussed this last year, by virtue of his agreement to remove the chemical weapons, as slow as that process has been,” said James Clapper, director of national intelligence.

Clapper, testifying at a U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee hearing, did not specify why the September agreement on chemical arms had boosted Assad’s position. […]