U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on Saturday that the United States and Turkey were prepared for a military solution against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria if a political settlement was not possible, amid uncertainty over scheduled peace talks.
The latest round of Syria peace talks are planned to begin on Monday in Geneva but are at risk of being delayed partly because of a dispute over who will comprise the opposition delegation.
"We do know it would better if we can reach a political solution but we are prepared ..., if that's not possible, to have a military solution to this operation in taking out Daesh," Biden said at a news conference after a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Daesh is the Arabic acronym for ISIL combatants who hold parts of Syria.
A U.S. official clarified that Biden was talking about a military solution to ISIL, not Syria as a whole.
The Saudi-backed Syrian opposition has meanwhile ruled out even indirect negotiations unless Damascus takes steps including a halt to Russian air strikes.
Biden said he and Davutoglu also discussed how the two NATO allies could further support Sunni Arab rebel forces fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
Saleh Muslim, co-chair of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, the main Kurdish political grouping in Syria, said on Friday the Syria peace talks would fail if Syrian Kurds are not represented.
While the United States draws a distinction between Kurdish Democratic Union Party, whose fighters it supports, and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey, Davutoglu reiterated the Turkish position that the democratic union party's military wing is part of and supported by the PKK.
The Kurdish Democratic Union Party's military wing, the People's Protection Units, has seized swathes of Syria from ISIL with the help of U.S.-led strikes and declared it an autonomous administration, to Ankara's chagrin. Davutoglu said on Saturday the party had become an increasing threat to Turkey.
Ankara has fought a decades-long insurgency against Kurdish PKK separatists which in July reignited into a violent confrontation with Turkish security forces.
Biden strongly criticized the PKK, which is designated a "terrorist" organization by the United States, the European Union and Turkey.
"ISIL is not the only existential threat … the PKK is equally a threat and we are aware of that," Biden said.
"The PKK has shown no desire or inclination to do that [live in peace]. It is a terrorist group plain and simple. And what they continue to do is absolutely outrageous,” he said.