There has been no change in U.S. support for a policy that states only groups designated by the U.N. as terrorist organizations must be excluded from a cessation of hostilities deal in Syria, the U.S. State Department said Tuesday, while refuting a statement from Secretary of State John Kerry in which he affiliates two opposition groups in Syria with terrorist organizations.
"The U.N. has not designated those groups are foreign terrorist organizations," State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a press briefing, referring to Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham – two Syrian opposition groups Russia considers terrorist entities.
"We're going to abide by the agreement that we also signed up to inside the ISSG," he said referring to the 20-member International Syria Support Group that is working to find a solution to the crisis in Syria. "There's been no change to that and I don't see any changes coming to that."
Kirby's remarks follow a Washington Post story that said Kerry implied last month that Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham were "subgroups" of terrorist organizations.
Asked what Kerry meant, Kirby said Kerry was referring only to the fact that the U.S. is not "blind to the notion that some of these fighters shift their loyalties" and go from fighting in one group to another.
"He wasn't changing our policy, with respect to who is or who is not part of the cessation of hostilities," Kirby said.
Despite Kerry's describing two opposition groups as subgroups of DAESH and al-Qaida, the U.S. persistently separates the PKK and its Syrian affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and its armed People's Protection Units (YPG). The group continues to receive support from Washington in the fight against DAESH, giving Ankara cause for concern regarding its national security due to its activities along the country's Syrian border.