The U.S. is prepared to use military force to end a civil war in Syria if a political solution can’t be reached, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said during a visit to Turkey.
A non-military resolution to Syria’s conflict “would be better,” but force could be used for “taking out” Islamic State if necessary, Biden said Saturday following meetings with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul.
“We do know that it would be better if we could reach a political solution,” Biden said. “We are prepared if that’s not possible to have a military solution to this operation.”
The U.S. has been carrying out “precision strikes” on Islamic State in the Middle East based on intelligence, and last year President Barack Obama criticized Republicans who urged carpet bombing of the group’s strongholds.
A Biden official traveling with the vice president told reporters the comments represented no change in U.S. policy, according to a press pool report that didn’t name the official.
Biden said both the U.S. and Turkey are “determined” to reach a resolution in Syria, and both nations agree that Islamic State, the autonomy-seeking Kurdish group known as PKK and the affiliated al-Nusra Front.
The vice president also said he discussed with Turkey’s leaders how the two governments can improve support of local Sunni Arab forces, working to cut off the remaining 60 miles of Turkish border.