BELGRADE Syrian and Arab ground forces have to be found to take on Islamic State, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday, warning the militant group would not be defeated by air strikes alone.
Kerry was speaking hours after Britain launched bombing raids against Islamic State targets in Syria, joining forces with France and the United States almost three weeks after the jihadist group killed 130 folks in attacks across Paris.
British Prime Minister David Cameron says there are as several as 70,000 moderate opposition fighters in Syria ready to take on Islamic State with the help of foreign air strikes, an assertion opponents of the bombing campaign have questioned.
“I think we know that with out the capacity to uncover some ground forces that are ready to take on Daesh, this will not be won fully from the air,” Kerry mentioned at a meeting in Belgrade of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Daesh is an Arabic name for the jihadist group commonly recognized as Islamic State. Asked later if he meant Western ground forces, Kerry stated: “(I’m) speaking about Syrian and Arab, as we have been consistently.”
In a policy reversal, the United States on Oct. 30 said it would deploy up to 50 U.S. specific forces to Syria to coordinate on the ground with U.S.-backed rebels.
Kerry met his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, on the sidelines of the OSCE meeting, with Washington and Moscow at odds over the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad far more than 4 years into a war that has killed more than 250,000 men and women.
The West says Assad should go, but Russia launched its personal air strikes on Sept. 30 in support of his government, saying it was going right after Islamic State. Western officials say Russian jets have hit mainly other anti-Assad rebels.
Kerry stated a “political transition” in Syria would pave the way for a united front against Islamic State – “the Syrian army with each other with the opposition … collectively with Russia, the United States and other individuals to go and fight Daesh.”
“Just imagine how speedily this scourge could be eliminated, in a matter of literally months, if we have been capable to safe that type of political resolution.”
(Writing by Matt Robinson Editing by Mark Trevelyan)