October 30, 2015 / 6:33 PM / 4 years ago

Syria special ops announcement timing was 'coincidence': Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry waves at the top of the stairs as he boards his plane to head back to the United States in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 25, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

VIENNA (Reuters) - The timing of a U.S. announcement on Friday that Washington would deploy dozens of special operations forces to northern Syria to advise opposition forces in their fight against Islamic State was pure accident, Secretary of State John Kerry said.

“It’s really a coincidence that it came out today,” he told reporters, adding that he wasn’t aware a decision had been made until earlier on Friday. Kerry was in Vienna for ministerial talks on Thursday and Friday aimed at finding a political solution to end Syria’s four-year civil war.

The decision by President Barack Obama would mark the first sustained U.S. troop presence in Syria. The U.S. military has been conducting air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq since last year but has been reluctant to send in ground forces.

Reporting by Francois Murphy and Matt Spetalnick; Writing by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Andrew Roche

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