Kerry: US, Europe Have No Appetite for Military Action in Syria
Secretary of State John Kerry says all options remain open for the U.S. and its allies in Syria, but he admits the United States and Europe have no appetite for military action, even as Russia refuses to back down.
Kerry held talks in London Sunday with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a day after Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minster Sergei Lavrov and other top diplomats in Switzerland.
Kerry said no one should be "lighting a fire" under a civil war or pitting two superpowers against each other.
"When a great power is involved in a fight like this, as Russia has chosen to be by going there [ Syria } and then putting its missiles in place in order to threaten people against military action, it raises the stakes of confrontation," Kerry said Sunday.
Kerry has clearly been frustrated at what has been going on in Syria -- the refugee crisis, the slaughter of civilians in Aleppo, Russian military action on the side of the Assad regime, truce breakdowns and Washington's apparent impotence at being able to stop the bloodshed.
"It's a humanitarian disaster ... and it could stop tomorrow if Russia and the Assad regime were to behave according to any norm or standard of decency," Kerry said Sunday. "Instead we see what can only be described as crimes against humanity taking place on a daily basis -- when a hospital gets bombed, when children are bombed, when gas, which is outlawed by the chemical convention, is used against human beings in Aleppo or elsewhere in the country."
Kerry warned of sanctions against Russia and Syria over the situation in Aleppo.
He also said that Saturday's talks in Switzerland produced "several ideas that need to be quickly followed up." But he gave no details.
Also Sunday, Turkey's foreign minister announced that Turkish-backed Syrian rebels captured the symbolically important northern Syrian town of Dabiq from Islamic State.
Iraqi PM Signals Start of Mosul Offensive
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has announced the formal start of a military push to drive Islamic State extremists from the northern stronghold city of Mosul.
The announcement on state television early Monday signals the opening of the largest military operation in that country since U.S. forces left five years ago.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said this is a "decisive moment" in the campaign to defeat Islamic State and pledged support from the U.S.-led coalition.
"We are confident our Iraq partners will prevail against our common enemy and free Mosul and the rest of Iraq from ISIL's hatred and brutality," he said in a statement.
In the hours before the announcement, the Iraqi Air Force dropped thousands of leaflets on Mosul, warning residents of the coming offensive to liberate the city.