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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.

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“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,” Kerry said.

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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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Earlier this week Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Berlin, raising hopes for the possibility of bringing Assad and rebel groups to a negotiating table, reports The Christian Science Monitor. Russian experts say Russia is making strides in that regard, and that it’s now the US’s duty to convince rebel groups that the best solution is engaging in talks.

"I think it's clear that Russia can deliver the Assad regime on this point, and bring them to the table for talks with the rebels," says Andrei Baklitsky, an expert with the PIR Center, an independent Moscow-based security think tank.

"Russian diplomacy has been pretty consistent on the need for such talks and Moscow is ready to do its part. But I would think it's the US that has a problem here. If Washington is going to change its approach, and come out in favor of negotiations, it may find itself unable to bring the rebels to the table. The Syrian rebels are very fragmented, have little common ground, and some of them are completely intransigent. Some of them didn't even want to go to Rome, to sit down with their friends, much less engage in talks with the Assad regime," he says.

According to the United Nations, an estimated 70,000 people have died in the two-year Syrian conflict. In addition, UN official António Guterres said the UN refugee agency has registered 936,000 Syrians across the Middle East and North Africa, which is almost 30 times as many people as registered in April last year, reports Al Jazeera. The number of refugees is expected to exceed 1 million within a month.

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