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Terrorism & Security

US will send nonlethal aid directly to Syrian rebels (+video)

Secretary of State John Kerry said that some groups the US doesn't support are gaining more influence with the rebels in the absence of greater Western help.

By Staff writer / February 28, 2013

US Secretary of State John Kerry (l.) talks to Syrian opposition coalition leader Mouaz al-Khatib during an international conference on Syria at Villa Madama, Rome, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013.

Riccardo De Luca/AP

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Latin America Editor

Whitney Eulich is the Monitor's Latin America editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She also curates the Latin America Monitor Blog.

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US Sec. of State John Kerry announces $60 million in food and medical supplies going to Syrian opposition after meeting in Rome.

The United States is planning to boost the size and scope of its aid to Syria, a policy shift announced at an international conference on Syria in Rome today.

Aid will remain nonlethal, but for the first time, it will be sent to Free Syrian Army fighters battling the government, reports Reuters. In the past, aid has only gone to unarmed groups and local councils. Secretary of State John Kerry also announced the US government will more than double aid for Syrian civilians, pledging $60 million.

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

Other European nations are expected to provide further assistance to the opposition, as well, potentially including “defensive military hardware,” reports The Associated Press.

"We want to help the Syrian opposition to better be able to meet the needs of the Syrian people," Kerry said at a news conference in Paris yesterday. "They've had difficulty doing that now. And some folks on the ground that we don't support and whose interests do not align with ours are delivering some of that help."

According to The New York Times, nonlethal aid could possibly go beyond food and medical equipment, including things such as night-vision devices, vehicles, or communications equipment. “[O]ne official said that the financing the United States planned to send to the resistance might indirectly help the rebels arm themselves as it might free up other funds to purchase weapons,” reports the Times.

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