London: US President Barack Obama yesterday ruled out any plans to send American ground troops in strife-torn Syria, saying it would be a “mistake” to deploy American or British soldiers to overthrow the Bashar al-Assad regime.
During a town hall meeting in London, when a student came out as “non-binary” (gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine) in an emotional address to Barack Obama about transgender issues, she was praised by the president for her bravery. However, Obama said he can’t do much about a North Carolina law that requires transgenders to use public bathrooms conforming to the sex on their birth certificates and restricts protections for LGBT people. Pic/AFP
Obama, who was in the UK for a three-day visit, which included a birthday lunch with Queen Elizabeth II and strong interventions in favour of Britain staying within the European Union (EU), said Syria was a “heart-breaking situation of enormous complexity”.
“I don’t think there are any simple solutions. It would be a mistake for the US, or Great Britain to send in ground troops and overthrow the (Bashar al-) Assad regime,” he told said in an interview.
“In order for us to solve the long-term problems in Syria, a military solution alone — and certainly us deploying ground troops — is not going to bring that about,” he said.
Obama said the US-led coalition would continue “to strike ISIS targets in places like Raqqa, and to try to isolate those portions of the country, and lock down those portions of the country that are sending foreign fighters into Europe”.
He had earlier said Europe would be safer with Britain voting to stay in the EU in the June 23 referendum. Obama warned that Brexit could hit Britain economically and take as long as a decade to negotiate a UK-US trade deal. “It could be five years from now, 10 years from now before we were able to actually get something done. The UK would not be able to negotiate something with the US faster than the EU. We wouldn’t abandon our efforts to negotiate a trade deal with our largest trading partner, the European market,” he said. However, his this warning has angered campaigners in favour of leaving the EU, with some describing him as a “lame duck” President.
Two rockets fired into Turkey from an area of Syria controlled by the Islamic State group hit the border town of Kilis yesterday, leaving 10 people injured. In the last few weeks, ISIS jihadists have repeatedly fired rockets at the town in the southeast of the country