(POLITICO) Secretary of State John Kerry was forced Tuesday to repeatedly stress that U.S. troops will not be sent to the ground in Syria after an early comment that appeared to leave that option on the table.

The Obama administration has tried to assure lawmakers and the public that any mission responding to the Syrian regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons would not involve U.S. ground troops. But when asked whether the administration would accept such a ban in a revised authorization resolution, Kerry replied that it would be “preferable not to.”

He raised hypothetical situations such as if Syria “imploded” or if chemical weapons were transferred into the hands of al-Nusra — an al Qaeda operation in Syria — where options needed to be on the table for Obama.

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