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FRIDAY, 25 APR 2014
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Syria a 'huge sectarian mess' : Kerry
Agence France Presse
FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 file photo, a Shiite fighter clashes with members of the Sunni-dominated Free Syrian Army rebel in the town of Hatita, in the countryside of Damascus, Syria. (AP Photo/Jaber al-Helo, File)
FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 file photo, a Shiite fighter clashes with members of the Sunni-dominated Free Syrian Army rebel in the town of Hatita, in the countryside of Damascus, Syria. (AP Photo/Jaber al-Helo, File)
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WASHINGTON: Syria has become a "huge sectarian mess" with rebel infighting and al-Qaeda's growing strength complicating the US search for a political settlement of the conflict, US Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged Sunday.

Kerry said Washington was relying on diplomacy to make an impact on the situation, citing plans for a peace conference next month in Geneva and efforts underway to eliminate the Syrian regime's chemical weapons.

"No one really wants to go to war in Syria because it's a huge sectarian, you know, mess, with all kinds of implications," he said in an interview with ABC's "This Week."

"So you have to work with the tools that you have that are permissible. And that's exactly what we're doing, trying to make the most of the diplomatic tools available in order to be able to have an impact," he said.

Kerry acknowledged that in-fighting among the Syrian opposition and rebel groups had left a void that is being filled by extremists and that entire sections of Syria are now safe havens for al-Qaeda.

"Yes, it's absolutely true. Al-Qaeda has greater clout there than it had before and it's an increasing threat. And it's a threat we're going to have to confront," he said.

But he added that the US Congress was reluctant to significantly fund the moderate opposition, and Americans do not want to get involved in another war.

The infighting exploded into full view earlier this month when a hardline Islamist rebel faction, the Islamic Front, seized a border crossing and a weapons warehouse from the Free Syrian Army near the Turkish border last week.

The United States responded by suspending its non-lethal aid to the rebels while it assessed the situation.

Kerry said he thought the aid to moderate rebel factions could be resumed "very quickly."

"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," he said.

"But look, this is complicated," he said. "This isn't easy."

 
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