Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday that climate change was a contributing factor in the Syrian civil war, alluding to a study last spring that linked drought-driven urbanization to the conflict that began in 2011.

“It is not a coincidence that immediately prior to the civil war in Syria, the country experienced the worst drought on record,” he said in a speech at the Milan Expo 2015 in Italy.

“As many as 1.5 million people migrated from Syria’s farms into Syria’s cities, and that intensified the political unrest that was beginning to brew,” he continued.

“Now, I’m not telling you that the crisis in Syria was caused by climate change. No, obviously, it wasn’t. It was caused by a brutal dictator who barrel-bombed, starved, tortured, and gassed his own people,” Kerry said.

“But the devastating drought clearly made a bad situation a lot worse.”

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