For years, the Pentagon has been against direct U.S. military action in Syria’s civil war.
Early last month, defense officials objected to a deal reached with Moscow by Secretary of State John F. Kerry that would couple a cease-fire and delivery of humanitarian aid with U.S.-Russian counterterrorism cooperation against the Islamic State and al-Qaeda-linked forces in Syria.
But the cease-fire did not hold. The U.N. Security Council is deadlocked over how to respond to the Aleppo crisis and the U.S. and Russia have failed to reach an agreement on renewing the short-lived cease-fire.
A statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet with Secretary Kerry in Lausanne, Switzerland, to discuss efforts to find a peace deal in Syria. This would be the first face-to-face encounter between the two men since Washington broke off diplomatic contact with Moscow over the violence in Aleppo earlier this month.
Amid increasing internal tension, one senior administration official insisted that both the Syrian opposition and U.S. allies have pressed for a continuation of negotiations and discouraged talk of military intervention. Obama’s position on the subject, this official said, has been “consistent. We do not believe there is a military solution to this conflict. There are any number of challenges that come with applying military force in this context.”
The State Department said Kerry would meet with “key regional partners” in Lausanne to discuss ways to resolve the Syria crisis, without specifying who they were. It said Kerry would discuss a “multilateral approach” to ending the crisis, “including a sustained cessation of violence and the resumption of humanitarian aid deliveries.”
In Obama’s recent speech at the United Nations, the official noted, Obama repeated that “there’s no ultimate military victory to be won” in Syria. Instead, Obama said, “we’re going to have to pursue the hard work of diplomacy that aims to stop the violence, and deliver aid to those in need, and support those who pursue a political settlement.”