News / Middle East

    US to Provide $60 Million for Syrian Opposition

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Syrian National Coalition President Mouaz al-Khatib, after a news conference at Villa Madama in Rome, February 28, 2013.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Syrian National Coalition President Mouaz al-Khatib, after a news conference at Villa Madama in Rome, February 28, 2013.
    VOA News
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday announced $60 million in additional aid to the Syrian opposition and also for the first time an unspecified amount of non-lethal aid to some of its military forces.
     
    The announcement came in Rome where Kerry attended a meeting with the Syrian opposition leaders and officials from dozens of countries supporting them.
     
    Kerry said the $60 million will enable the opposition to provide services in areas it controls and help build its local support. Militant groups have filled that role in some areas, raising concerns in the West.
     
    The military aid — combat rations and medical supplies — will be the first provided by the United States directly to the opposition military council.

    Kerry said the international community is committed to working with the Syrian opposition "with peace as a first resort."

    "They are the legitimate voice of the Syrian people.  And that stands in very stark contrast to the rule of Bashar al-Assad, who long ago lost his legitimacy and who is out of time and who must be out of power," said Kerry.
     
    The Syrian opposition wants weapons, and was hoping for at least equipment like body armor and armored vehicles. The United States is concerned about any supplies being passed to the militants, who have many of the most effective fighting units.
     
    Concern over militants
     
    At a news conference Thursday, after what is called the Friends of Syria meeting, Kerry referred to the concern about militants, and the balance the international community is trying to strike between pressing for an end to the Assad regime and not strengthening the extremists.
     
    “We can't risk letting this country in the heart of the Middle East be destroyed by vicious autocrats or hijacked by the extremists," he said. "In supporting the Syrian Opposition Coalition and the Free Syrian Army, we reject both of those choices.”
     
    Kerry has said the United States wants to "change the calculation" Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is making as he clings to power and orders increasingly brutal attacks on civilian areas.
     
    “What we're doing today is part of a whole, and I am very confident that that whole is going to have the ability for President Assad to realize he better start measuring more effectively what his future is, what his choices are and what kinds of weapons he uses," he said.
     
    "So I'm very confident in what the president [Obama] has put forward today as the beginning of a process that will, in fact, change his [Assad's] calculation,” Kerry said.
     
    Opposition demands
     
    The president of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, Mouaz al-Khatib, spoke forcefully at the news conference, calling on President Assad to stop bombing civilian areas. Khatib also expressed impatience with his foreign supporters, who he believes are overly concerned about their aid falling into the hands of terrorists.
     
    "No terrorists in the world have such a savage nature as that of the Syrian regime,” he said.
     
    The meeting's communique said the opposition coalition would soon appoint someone to lead an interim government that would operate inside Syria.

    That was expected to come at a meeting scheduled for Istanbul on Saturday. But the activists announced Thursday that the meeting was called off.

    Khalid Saleh, director of the media office for the Syrian National Coalition, told VOA that some coalition members were unable to attend because they were not consulted about the date and because some members had scheduling conflicts.

    Saleh said the activists plan to reschedule the election of an interim prime minister within a few days.

     "No new date has been set. I cannot reveal the reasons at this time and I do not exclude its cancellation," opposition member Samir Nashar told the French news agency.
    • Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Qatar crown prince, Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, start their meeting at the Prince's Sea Palace residence in Doha, Qatar, March 5, 2013.
    • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is met by Qatari Chief of Protocol Abdullah Fakhroo and Qatari Ambassador to the U.S. Mohamed al-Rumaihi at Doha International Airport, March 5, 2013.
    • The red carpet is rolled up after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry boarded his plane to leave Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on his way to the final destination of Qatar, March 5, 2013.
    • Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan invites U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to pose with him for a photograph before their dinner meeting at the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, March 4, 2013.
    • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry walks with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on arrival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 3, 2013.
    • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt, March 3, 2013.
    • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attends an Antikabir Wreath Laying ceremony at the Tomb of Ataturk in Ankara, Turkey, March 2, 2013.
    • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry holds a news conference with Syrian National Coalition Chairman Mouaz al-Khatib and Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi at Villa Madama in Rome, Feb. 28, 2013.
    • A peace activist protests at the end of statements given by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Syrian National Coalition President Mouaz al-Khatib at Villa Madama in Rome, Feb. 28, 2013.
    • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Feb. 27, 2013.
    • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gestures while standing with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Berlin, Germany, Feb. 26, 2013.
    • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and German Chancellor Angela Merkel speak to the media at the Chancellery in Berlin, Feb. 26, 2013.
    • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with the children of U.S. embassy staff in Berlin, Feb. 26, 2013.
    • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at a news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in London, Feb. 25, 2013.
    • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visits with the traveling media aboard a plane en route to London on his inaugural trip as secretary, Feb. 24, 2013.

    You May Like

    Video US Observes Memorial Day With Wreath-laying, National Concert

    Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    
    by: Hafez Azam from: Lebanon
    February 28, 2013 8:20 AM
    hey USA, you might as well support Al Qaeda... if you think that the Arab Spring is some sort of a rush to democratic enlightenment... you are fools... by now, you should know not to trust Arabs... they will use your Humanitarian sensitivities to stab you in the back... one thing i am in favor of, if the "rebels" (AL Nusra) wins, that will spell the end of Hizbullah (a terrorist organization that has chocked my country for 30 years) - that will be good
    In Response

    by: ali from: new york
    February 28, 2013 9:09 AM
    yes ,you are all right .The rebels are getting help from Osama bin laden group. too bad for us policy maker. they never get it.
         

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora