Military strategies pursued by the regime and its backers will only lengthen the war and generate more extremists


John Kerry
Secretary of State

Washington, DC

January 5, 2017


We’re also right to insist that a diplomatic path is the only way out of the disastrous situation in Syria, one of the most intractable and complex conflicts in modern history and the worst humanitarian catastrophe since World War II. And despite our best efforts to mobilize a unified response from the international community and to ease tensions and reduce violence and save lives, obviously the war has continued at considerable human cost.

After more than five years of tragedy, this much remains clear: It is only through a political solution that ultimately the country can be unified, the country can be rebuilt, and the violence can actually be stopped. It is only through a political solution that actual peace can finally come to Syria.

Now, the military strategies that are pursued by the regime and its backers in Moscow and Tehran, if that’s all there is, will only lengthen the war and generate more extremists and further inflame sectarian fighting. That’s why the United States continues to support diplomatic efforts to achieve an effective cessation of hostilities and a transition to a government capable of uniting the Syrian people. And we’re not competing with – we back – the efforts of Russia and Turkey and Iran to talk. We’ve – I’ve been in conversation with secretary – with Minister Lavrov, with Minister Cavusoglu and others, even in the last days, encouraging this process and talking about how we would build conceivably on what happens in Astana, if it can happen, in order to get to Geneva and get to the real negotiations that the international community supports…

Now, it’s proven to be very difficult. As you can see, the fighting is continuing. It’s difficult – the Assad regime seems to be playing the same card that it was playing previously. We’re all in this together in terms of trying to get to the table in Geneva and be – and find a solution. And my hope is that in the next days we’re encouraging the meeting in Astana. We hope that could produce a step forward. I’ve talked to Staffan de Mistura, I’ve talked with Minister Lavrov. We all agree that the same objective remains, which is to get to Geneva, where the real meat of the talks is going to take place. And I don’t think anybody at this point has an expectation that there’s going to be some major step forward out of Astana if that takes place.