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US will increase Syria aid, White House says

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-02-27

The United States will increase assistance to the Syrian people in an effort to achieve a transition to a post-Assad regime, a White House spokesman said on Wednesday, as the bloody uprising approaches its second anniversary.

The United States will increase aid to Syrians and the Syrian opposition in an effort to speed up a political transition in Syria, a White House spokesman said on Wednesday.

"We are constantly reviewing the nature of the assistance we provide to both the Syrian people, in form of humanitarian assistance, and to the Syrian opposition in the form of non-lethal assistance," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at a briefing.

Washington has sided with the Syrian opposition in seeking the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.

"We will continue to provide assistance to the Syrian people, to the Syrian opposition, we will continue to increase our assistance in the effort to bring about a post-Assad Syria," Carney said.

The statement came only hours after US Secretary of State John Kerry met with France’s President François Hollande and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Paris.

During their talks Kerry said that the two countries’ efforts to hasten the political transition would be discussed at a meeting in Rome later this week.

“[Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] needs to know he cannot shoot his way out of this, so we need to convince him of that and I think the opposition needs more help in order to be able to do that,” Kerry told reporters. “And we are working together to have a united position.”

Syria’s opposition National Coalition earlier this week reversed its decision to boycott the ‘Friends of Syria’ meeting in Rome aimed at boosting support for the Syrian rebellion, and a key part of Kerry’s first overseas mission as US secretary of state.

Opposition leaders had protested at what they see as inaction by other nations in the face of violence from the Assad regime.

They will demand "qualitative military support" at the international conference to help in its struggle to oust Assad, a leading opposition member said on Wednesday.

"We ask our friends to give us every backing to achieve gains on the ground and help reach a political solution from a position of strength, not weakness," Riad Seif of the Syrian National Coalition umbrella group told Reuters a day before the meeting in the Italian capital.

"We expect to receive political, humanitarian and qualitative military support," he said.

Meanwhile, the confirmation of increased US aid comes two days after Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said that the regime was “ready for dialogue with everyone who wants it … even with those who have weapons in their hands,” the clearest offer yet of negotiations with rebels fighting to overthrow the Syrian leader.

The United Nations says at least 70,000 people have been killed in the nearly two-year conflict. It also said that the number of Syrians who have fled their war-torn homeland has topped 850,000, warning that the figure could reach 1.1 million within months. Some 2.5 million have been displaced by the fighting but remain in Syria.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-02-27

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