US$60 million in new aid to Syria opposition: US
By Matthew Lee ,APROME -- The Obama administration said Thursday that it will provide the Syrian opposition with an additional US$60 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.
March 1, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
“We need to stand on the side of those who want to see a free Syria,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said. “The stakes are really high and we can't risk letting this country in the heart of the Mideast being destroyed by vicious autocrats.”
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 and Arab nations also signaled their intention to provide fresh assistance to the opposition.
“No nation, no people should live in fear of their so-called leaders,” Kerry said.
Mouaz al-Khatib, leader of the Syrian opposition coalition, called on Assad to “for once in your life behave as a human being.”
“Bashar Assad, you have to make at least one wise decision in your life for the future of your country,” al-Khatib said.
Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, who hosted the meeting, said: “We must go above and beyond the efforts we are making now. We can no longer allow this massacre to continue.”
Terzi issued a statement earlier Thursday saying the foreign ministers recognized “the need to change the balance of power on the ground.” He said the countries “will coordinate their efforts closely so as to best empower the Syrian people and support the Supreme Military Command of the Free Syrian Army in its efforts to help them exercise self-defense.”
Kerry said the U.S. 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.