Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the Obama administration had no plans to put “boots on the ground” in Syria. However, at one point he clarified that he wouldn’t take the idea or any other military options “off the table” should unpredicted circumstances arise.

In the event “Syria imploded” or “in the event there was a threat of a chemical weapons cache falling into the hands of al-Nusra or someone else…I don’t want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to a president of the United States to secure our country,” Kerry explained.

Kerry later clarified after being pressed by a senator, saying he was just “thinking out loud” and expressed his desire to “shut that door tight as we can” on the possibility of ground troops.

Kerry said the U.S. must act against Syria following reports of a chemical weapons attack or America would be seen as “spectators of slaughter.” When asked about the administration’s confidence that it was the Syrian government and not opposition forces behind the attack, Kerry said they had “high confidence.”

He later clarified further: “There is no problem in our having the language that has zero capacity for American troops on the ground within the authorization the president is asking for.”

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Featured image via Getty. This story has been updated.

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