Kerry: Syrian Crisis at a Turning Point

The crisis in Syria has reached a turning point, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday, and decisions made in the near future could either end the war or “define a very difficult set of choices for the future.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 13, 2016.

“We hope this week can be a week of change,” Kerry told the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

“This moment is a hinge point,” Kerry said, using a seldom-heard phrase in English that means a turning point at which significant change occurs.

“Decisions made in the coming days, weeks and months can end the war in Syria,” Kerry continued. “Or, if the wrong choices are made, they can open the door to even wider conflict.”

Support for European allies

Kerry stressed two main themes in his address to the global forum about security policy:

He emphasized the United States’ strong support for its allies in Europe as they confront multiple crises, including the tide of refugees from the Syrian civil war and the uneasy situation in Ukraine between the Kiev government and Russian-supported separatists.

The top U.S. diplomat also spoke at length about the international effort to bring about a cease-fire in Syria, and the focus on ensuring that humanitarian aid can reach besieged civilian areas.

‘Defining challenge of our generation’

“Perhaps most urgently,” Kerry added, “the United States and Europe are at the forefront of facing what has become a defining challenge of our generation: the fight against violent extremism.”

He singled out the Islamic State terror group, declaring “we’re going after their fighters” and “destroying their economic lifeline.”

Using his customary term Daesh —a scornful Arabic acronym — to refer to the Islamic State group, Kerry said: “We’re going to defeat Daesh and… our progress is measurable and growing on a steady basis.”