The United States outlined no change in its Syria policy as a target date for a political transition passed Monday, despite warning a few months ago that no progress would lead to a more muscular approach for ending the 5½-year-old civil war.
At a news conference in Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. would press on with a multi-month effort to prod Syrian President Bashar Assad and moderate opposition groups into a lasting truce and talks on a unity government.
Kerry’s tone was dramatically different from early May, when he issued an Aug. 1 ultimatum to Assad and his main backer Russia and warned of “repercussions.” He said at the time, “Either something happens in these next few months, or they are asking for a very different track.”
But on Monday, the top American described a U.S. strategy for Syria that is stuck where it started.
“Almost all of the time from the moment of the announcement of the target date until today has been consumed by trying to get a cessation of hostilities in place that is meaningful,” Kerry said. “And that is precisely what we are engaged in right now.”