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Kerry laments lack of Syria options in leaked audio

Kerry has been pressuring President Obama to make Assad's forces back out and in 2013 had called for US military strikes against Assad. Photograph: (AFP)

WION Washington Oct 01, 2016, 06.35 AM (IST)

The New York Times released a recording on Friday, in which US secretary of state John Kerry sounds exasperated that his diplomatic efforts to end Syria's civil war were not supported by the US military. 

In the leaked audio recording, Kerry could be heard saying "I think you're looking at three people, four people in the administration who have all argued for use of force, and I lost the argument." The conversation was recorded in New York where Kerry was talking to a group of Syrian civilians, on the sidelines of UNGA. 

"I've argued for the use of force ... but things evolved into a different process."

"Look, I get it, a lot of us wish there was an enforcement mechanism right now. A lot of us have been fighting for one, but we don't have one right now and that's set," he warned.

"We're trying to pursue the diplomacy, and I understand it's frustrating. You have nobody more frustrated than we are," he told the Syrians. 

State department spokesman John Kirby did not deny that the audio clip was authentic, "While we will decline to comment on a private conversation, Secretary Kerry was grateful for the chance to meet with this group of Syrians, to hear their concerns first hand and to express our continued focus on ending this civil war."

According to AFP, Kerry has been pushing US President Barack Obama to take a more robust path in Syria to force President Bashar al-Assad out. 

In August 2013, after Assad had been accused of firing chemical weapons at civilians, Kerry gave a ferocious speech that was seen as prefiguring a retaliatory US military strike -- only for Obama to back down only hours later.

He also referred to the incident in the recording but blamed the US Congress for not voting to authorise military action against Assad. 

During the meeting, the Syrians had expressed frustration that the US was only focused on fighting the Islamic State group and have overlooked Assad and his forces.

(WION with inputs from AFP)
 

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