Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday that if upcoming negotiations fail and no political solution to the civil war in Syria is possible, the United States is prepared to step in with major military force.
“We do know it would better if we can reach a political solution but we are prepared … if that’s not possible … to have a military solution to this operation in taking out Daesh,” Biden said following a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Another U.S. official quickly stepped in to clarify Biden’s remarks, saying that the military solution applied only to the Islamic State, as opposed to Syria in its entirety, Reuters reports. The official added that “there is no change in U.S. policy.”
According to the White House, negotiating a settlement between the Syrian government and rebel forces is of great importance, as it would help bring the Islamic State down another notch.
While Secretary of State John Kerry said that the U.S. will no longer be seeking regime change in Syria following a compromise with Moscow, Biden said that he was in discussion with Davutoglu about how both countries could provide Sunni rebel forces with the support they need to bring down Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Biden arrived Thursday in Istanbul for the purpose of deepening U.S. cooperation with Turkey on the fight against the Islamic State. This included Biden urging Turkey to do more to secure a 60-mile section of its border with Syria, which has been used repeatedly by ISIS for supply routes. Biden also brought up the issue of Iraq’s displeasure with Turkish military encorachment. Davutoglu insisted that Turkish forces were solely in Iraq to train local forces against ISIS. That issue is far from resolved, but the next step is for talks to open with the Iraqi government.
The next iteration of the Syrian peace talks are supposed to take place Monday in Geneva, but they’ve been delayed because of an unresolved dispute over which parties will comprise the opposition. Negotiations will continue over the weekend. There still seem to be nearly intractable differences between the U.S. and Russia on which parties to invite.
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