US Secretary of State John Kerry has met with a group of US diplomats who earlier signed an internal memo calling for airstrikes against the Syrian government.
The meeting, held in Kerry’s office in Washington on Tuesday, lasted for about half an hour, during which Kerry briefed the “dissent channel” diplomats on his work in Syria, State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
An intentionally-leaked memo, signed last week by 51 State Department officials involved with advising on Syria policy, called for targeted strikes against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Failure to stem Assad’s flagrant abuses will only bolster the ideological appeal of groups such as Daesh, even as they endure tactical setbacks on the battlefield,” the cable reads.
Kerry took the memo seriously, although it is not expected to prompt any major shift in the current strategy in Syria, Kirby said.
During the meeting, Kerry and eight of the authors exchanged views on whether there was a way to use US military forces to end the Syrian conflict before President Barack Obama leaves office at the end of this year.
“The secretary was largely in listening mode. The purpose was to hear them out,” Kirby said, adding that the White House still believes that “there’s no military solution to the conflict.”
The diplomats’ urgent call for military action closely resembles the arguments Kerry has been making in Situation Room debates on how to force President Assad to accept a transition of power, administration officials said.
Kerry has reportedly warned the president that unless Washington is willing to put more pressure on Assad, he will simply wait out the end of Obama’s second term in office.
The United States and its allies formed a coalition that has been conducting airstrikes against purported Daesh positions inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate.
The coalition has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of fulfilling its declared aim of destroying Daesh.
Daesh terrorists, who were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, are engaged in crimes against humanity in the areas under their control.