Syrians should not have to choose between a tyrant and terrorists, said Secretary of State John Kerry in a recent address in Washington.
For the past three and a half years, a war has raged in Syria, after the regime of Bashar al Assad turned tanks and guns on peaceful anti-government protesters. Nearly 200,000 Syrians have died in the intervening years, as the Assad government, with financial and military help from its ally, Iran, has brutalized the Syrian people using chemical weapons, barrel bombs, starvation, torture, and other horrors.
The ruin that Assad has brought to Syria has helped foster the growth of violent extremists such as ISIL, or Daesh, as it is called in Arabic, which seeks to impose its tormented vision on the people of Syria and Iraq.
As Secretary of State Kerry observed, Assad has falsely claimed “to be the last line of defense against a terrorist takeover in Syria:”
“The truth is his relationship to Daesh has been symbiotic. It was Assad’s ruthless reign that fueled Daesh’s rise and enabled terrorists to portray themselves as the only alternative Syrians had to their dictator.”
Assad and Daesh are both dead ends for the Syrian people, said Secretary of State Kerry: ”And that is why we favor a third option – the moderate Syrian opposition who are fighting both extremists and Assad every day. And we remain as committed as ever to supporting them, with an understanding that it’s a hard fight.”
Mr. Kerry said the international community, including Assad’s allies Iran and Russia, agree that ultimately there is no military solution possible for Syria. “The only possible way for the Syrian civil war to end,” he said, “is through a negotiated political solution.”
To that end, the United States is engaged in diplomatic conversations with countries in the region to discover the best way to achieve that political settlement. The United States, Secretary of State Kerry said, will continue to pursue a diplomatic path to help bring about a political transition and stability to Syria, “just as we will remain committed to degrading and defeating Daesh in Iraq, in Syria, and wherever it is found.”