The conflict in Syria, now in its fifth year, has created an exodus of millions of Syrian refugees and spawned a geopolitical brew. That will be a major topic of discussion among diplomats and leaders when they convene at the U.N. General Assembly in another week, and Kerry’s trip to Europe is to help lay the groundwork for more talks at the United Nations.
Kerry said the refugee crisis must be addressed “by dealing with the root cause, which is violence in Syria, and the lack of hope and possibility of a future that so many people in that region feel is a consequence of the violence that’s taking place.”
Kerry and Hammond both said Assad is to blame for the rise of the Islamic State, which has declared a caliphate in part of Syria and Iraq. In recent weeks, Washington has watched with alarm as Russia has beefed up its military presence in Syria, ostensibly to fight Islamic State militants. But the United States and its allies worry that Russia will prop up Assad, further lengthening the conflict.