Arab forces necessary to defeat IS, says Kerry

Arab forces necessary to defeat IS, says Kerry
Syrian and Arab forces must be found to take on IS, said US Secretary of State John Kerry, pointing out that ISIS/ISIL could not be defeated from the air alone.
3 min read
04 December, 2015
Arab ground troops must be found to fight IS says America's chief diplomat [Anadolu]

US Secretary of State John Kerry called for Syrian and Arab ground troops to take on Islamic State group (IS) fighters 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," Kerry told a delegation of dozens of foreign ministers in Belgrade.

When asked later whether he was referring to Western or Syrian ground forces, he said: "Syrian and Arab".

Washington is however due to send 50 US Special Forces 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 (against IS)," 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."

In Brussels, on Wednesday, Kerry had urged NATO allies to intensify the fight against the IS group.

Bundestag members vote on Germany's participation in a coalition-led military intervention
in Syria on 4 December, 2015 in Berlin, Germany

The German parliament (Bundestag), on Friday, approved a plan that would allow the army to have a non-combat role in the military campaign against IS, particularly in Syria.

The task would see the country mobilise 1200 troops, the naval frigate Sachsen, and Tornado jets, according to the BBC.

After the meeting in Belgrade on Thursday, Kerry flew to Cyprus where hopes have grown for a peace deal between the divided Greek Cypriot south and Turkish Cypriot-held north.

Kerry said that an end to the four-decade division of Cyprus was “within reach” after separate talks with the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders.

"I am more convinced than ever that a resolution to the longstanding division of Cyprus is within reach, and with it, the many benefits of unity for all the people of the island," he said.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.