US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a press conference Saturday that American special operations troops being sent to Syria will only fight Islamic State jihadists and won’t become involved in the long-running civil war.
Kerry called IS a threat to every nation and said US policy is clear — the group must be defeated.
Kerry did not rule out a further US escalation of the fight, saying he can’t predict the future.
The Obama administration is sending up to 50 special operations troops to assist Kurdish and Arab forces in northern Syria. It’s the first pledge of American military boots on the ground in Syria.
Kerry spoke at a news conference in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, alongside the country’s foreign Minister, Erlan Abdyldaev.
Also Saturday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in Geneva that new talks aimed to help end Syria’s war shouldn’t be held up by wrangling over whether President Bashar Assad stays or goes.
The UN chief said he’s encouraged by the talks in Vienna aiming to revive a Syrian political process to end the war.
Ban said they “should not be held up over the future of one man.”
In Vienna, the US, Saudi Arabia and other allies softened calls for Assad’s quick removal from power. Russia and Iran didn’t rule out his eventual departure.
Ban spoke after meeting with International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer. The rescue organization umbrella urged greater respect for international humanitarian law in the wake of dozens of attacks on health centers in conflict zones this year.