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Air strikes alone won't defeat Islamic State, Kerry warns

Air strikes alone won't defeat Islamic State, Kerry warns

By Arshad Mohammed for Reuters

Syrian and Arab ground forces must be found to take on Islamic State, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday, warning the militant group would not be defeated by air strikes alone.

Kerry was speaking hours after Britain launched bombing raids against Islamic State targets in Syria, joining forces with France and the United States nearly three weeks after the jihadist group killed 130 people in attacks across Paris.

British Prime Minister David Cameron says there are as many as 70,000 moderate opposition fighters in Syria ready to take on Islamic State with the help of foreign air strikes, an assertion opponents of the bombing campaign have questioned.

“I think we know that without the ability to find some ground forces that are prepared to take on Daesh, this will not be won completely from the air,” Kerry said at a meeting in Belgrade of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Daesh is an Arabic name for the jihadist group commonly known as Islamic State. Asked later if he meant Western ground forces, Kerry said: “(I'm) talking about Syrian and Arab, as we have been consistently.”

In a policy reversal, the United States on Oct. 30 said it would deploy up to 50 U.S. special forces to Syria to coordinate on the ground with U.S.-backed rebels.

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