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Kerry: Syria non-lethal aid to resume quickly

Kerry warns of a heightened humanitarian crisis and ‘sectarian mess’ in Syria

Published: Updated:

Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday he expects the resumption of non-lethal aid to Syria, which was suspended last week following the seizure of a warehouse by Islamists, to resume very quickly.

In an interview on ABC’s This Week, Kerry warned of the heightened humanitarian crisis in Syria.

When asked when the non-lethal aid to Syria would resume, Kerry answered: “very quickly.”

“We’ve already had some proffers who have the warehouse protected and other kinds of things. But I think people want to be careful, have the meetings that we need to have and make certain we can proceed forward thoughtfully. Nobody wants to just build a warehouse up again and have it taken over again. That doesn’t make sense.”

“We have a massive humanitarian crisis. ... You know, look, these things are complicated.

“How do you go in and get the humanitarian assistance if the (President Bashar) al-Assad regime is preventing it from happening? No one in America wants to put American troops on the ground. We could get the food in there very quickly if we did that. But that choice isn’t available,” Kerry said.

“And no one really wants to go to war in Syria because it’s a huge sectarian, you know, mess, with all kinds of implications. So you have to work with the tools that you have that are permissible.”

The Secretary of State has blamed the warehouse incident on infighting within the opposition, which may be fueled by Syria’s president.

“And this is the nature of the beast that has been unleashed by Bashar al-Assad, who probably is feeding some of it himself, because he likes to try to play the card that he is the better alternative to these extremists,” he said.

The U.S. and Britain said Wednesday they were suspending deliveries of nonlethal aid to rebels in northern Syria. The aid includes communications equipment and laptops after some of the gear was seized by Islamic militants.

In his interview with the American channel, Kerry also talked about bringing together the Syrian opposition for talks.

“We’ve had conversations constantly — I’ve talked this week with foreign ministers in the region. We’re working — there’s a meeting that’s going to take place, I think next week. People will be coming together,” he said.

“We are aiming toward the Geneva 2 Conference, which will take place in January, in the latter part of January,” Kerry added.

“We are committed to try to bring people together, a strong representation of the opposition together with the Assad regime representatives and with maybe 30 or so other countries and all try to work in the same direction, which is to get a political settlement out of Syria.”

“It’s hard, but that’s the only way you’re ever going to end the fighting and establish some kind of a governance structure that builds a future for the Syrian people.”

The U.N.-backed Geneva II peace talks aims to bring representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government and the opposition to the negotiating table in a bid to end the bloody 32-month civil conflict, which has so far claimed 126,000 lives.

The opposition has agreed to attend the talks on condition that they lead to a transitional period excluding Assad and his regime.