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Kerry Refuses To Rule Out More Troops In Syria

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US Secretary of State John Kerry has refused to rule out deploying more US personnel to battle IS in Syria.

It comes a day after the White House announced the first "boots on the ground" in the country, with up to 50 special forces personnel taking on an "advise and assist" role with local forces.

Spokesman Josh Earnest said their role should not be described as a "combat mission", but Mr Kerry admitted it was impossible to know what it might take to defeat Islamic State.

"I can't predict what the future will bring when our policy is to destroy Daesh [IS], to fight back against this evil," said Mr Kerry, speaking in Kyrgyzstan on Saturday.

"But I do think the president [Barack Obama] has made a judgement that I completely advocated for and concur (with)."

Mr Kerry also addressed concerns the US is being drawn into the Syrian war - a conflict the UN says has caused more than 200,000 deaths - and entering a proxy war with Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been accused of using airstrikes as a cover to attack anti-Assad rebels and prop up the existing regime, rebels rather than fight IS.

"It is not a decision to enter into Syria's civil war," said the Secretary of State.

"It is not an action focused on [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, it is focused exclusively on Daesh and in augmenting our ability to rapidly attack Daesh."

The US shift in strategy also includes stationing more planes in Turkey to help opposition fighters' push towards the IS stronghold of Raqqa.

Mr Kerry is in Kyrgyzstan on a tour of five ex-Soviet republics in an effort to reassure governments worried about the threat from Islamic militants in the region.

He attended talks in Vienna yesterday where the US, Russia and Iran called for a nationwide truce in Syria.

It was the first time Tehran has attended peace talks - and although leaders say progress was made, no agreement was reached about the fate of President Assad.

In a joint statement, participants said they had asked the UN to start talks between the Syrian government and the opposition to launch "a political process leading to credible, inclusive, non-sectarian governance, followed by a new constitution and elections".

 

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