LONDON (Reuters) - Secretary of State John Kerry was making a rhetorical comment when he said on Monday that Syria's President Bashar al-Assad would not hand over his country's chemical weapons.

Kerry told a news briefing on Monday that Assad could avoid a military strike by turning over all his chemical weapons within a week but added that Assad was not about to do that.

"Secretary Kerry was making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility and unlikelihood of Assad turning over chemical weapons he has denied he used," a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

"His (Kerry's) point was that this brutal dictator with a history of playing fast and loose with the facts cannot be trusted to turn over chemical weapons, otherwise he would have done so long ago. That's why the world faces this moment."

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed, Editing by Stephen Addison)