This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 12 °C Friday 6 December, 2019
Advertisement

US pledges $60 million in aid to Syrian opposition

US Secretary of State John Kerry said that president Bashar al-Assad was “out of time and must be out of power.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, talks to Syrian opposition coalition leader Mouaz al-Khatib, during an international conference on Syria today.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, talks to Syrian opposition coalition leader Mouaz al-Khatib, during an international conference on Syria today.
Image: AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca

THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION said today that it will provide the Syrian opposition with an additional $60 million (just over €45 million) in assistance and – in a significant policy shift – will for the first time provide nonlethal aid like food and medical supplies to rebels battling to oust President Bashar Assad.

US Secretary of State John Kerry announced the new support and the decision to back the rebel fighters on the sidelines of an international conference on Syria in Rome, where European nations were also expected to signal their intention to provide fresh assistance to the opposition, possibly including defensive military hardware.

“No nation, no people should live in fear of their so-called leaders,” Kerry said.

He said the US decision is designed to increase the pressure on Assad to step down and pave the way for a democratic transition. The aid is also intended to help the opposition govern newly liberated areas of Syria and blunt the influence of extremists.

‘Out of time and out of power’

Kerry said Assad “is out of time and must be out of power.”

“For more than a year, the United States and our partners have called on Assad to heed the voice of the Syrian people and to halt his war machine,” Kerry said. “Instead, what we have seen is his brutality increase.”

Kerry added, “The United States’ decision to take further steps now is the result of the brutality of superior armed force propped up by foreign fighters from Iran and Hezbollah.”

Washington has already provided $385 million (just under €300 million) in humanitarian aid to Syria’s war-weary population and $54 million (just over €41 million) in communications equipment, medical supplies and other nonlethal assistance to Syria’s political opposition.

The US also has screened rebel groups for Turkey and American allies in the Arab world that have armed rebel fighters.

Money going directly to rebels

Until now, no US dollars or provisions have gone directly to rebel fighters, reflecting concerns about forces that have allied themselves with more radical Islamic elements since Assad’s initial crackdown on peaceful protesters in March 2011.

“Given the stakes, the president will now extend food and medical supplies to the Syrian opposition, including the Supreme Military Council,” Kerry said today.

The money pledged today will go to Assad’s political opposition. US officials said the rations and medical supplies will be delivered to the rebels through their military council, and is to be distributed only to carefully vetted members of the Free Syrian Army.

The US will be sending technical advisers to the Syrian National Coalition offices in Cairo to oversee and help them spend the money for good governance and rule of law. The advisers will be from non-governmental organisations and other groups that do this kind of work.

Read: Hollande believes there could be a ‘political solution’ on Syria in weeks >

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Associated Press

Read next:

COMMENTS (35)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel