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Kerry calls for Arab ground troops against IS

Kerry calls for Arab ground troops against IS

BELGRADE: US Secretary of State John Kerry called on Thursday for ground troops from Syria and other Arab countries to take on the militant Islamic State (IS) to enable a complete defeat of the organisation.

“I think we know it, that without the ability to find some ground forces that are prepared to take on Daesh (IS), this will not be won completely from the air,” Mr Kerry told a gathering of foreign ministers in Belgrade.

Asked later whether he was referring to Western or Syrian ground forces, he said: “Syrian and Arab, as we have been consistently.” Washington is, however, due to send 50 special troops into Syria soon.

His comments at the annual ministerial council of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) came after Britain’s parliament voted late on Wednesday to join the US-led bombing campaign over Syria.

The last round of Syria peace talks were held in Vienna last month, bringing together 17 countries including Russia, the United States, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The talks set a fixed calendar for a ceasefire, followed by a transitional government in six months, and elections one year later, but Syrian opposition figures have called this unrealistic.

“If we get the political transition in place we empower every nation and every entity to come together, the Syrian army together with the opposition... together with Russia, the United States and others to go and fight Daesh,” Kerry said in Belgrade.

“Just imagine how quickly this scourge could be eliminated in a matter of literally months if we were able to secure that kind of political resolution.”

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2015

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