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Kerry: US Doubling Non-Lethal Aid to Syrian Rebels

The Jewish Press received the following press release from the Dept. of State:

Following his meetings with Syrian Coalition President al-Khatib, members of the Coalition’s leadership, and international partners supporting the Syrian opposition, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the United States’ intention to double non-lethal assistance to the Syrian opposition, as well as provide additional humanitarian aid to Syrians in need.

The new non-lethal assistance underscores the United States’ firm support for a political solution to the crisis in Syria and for the opposition’s advancement of an inclusive, tolerant vision for a post-Assad Syria. The United States will work with the Syrian Coalition and other opposition representatives to determine how the new $123 million in non-lethal assistance can best support their efforts to meet the needs of the Syrian people and lead the way to a political transition that will bring an end to this conflict, and build the inclusive, democratic Syria that its people deserve. This new pledge brings our total non-lethal assistance to the Syrian opposition and civil society groups to $250 million.

The United States will also use a portion of this non-lethal assistance to implement President Obama’s directive to provide an expanded range of support to the Supreme Military Council (SMC). We intend to expand this new support beyond military food rations and medical kits to include other types of non-lethal supplies, which would be determined in collaboration with SMC leadership.

Secretary Kerry urged international partners gathered in Istanbul, as well as all Friends of the Syrian People, to make similar pledges of assistance to the Coalition and the Supreme Military Council with the goal of reaching $1 billion in total international support for the opposition.

In recognition of the devastating humanitarian situation as a result of the crisis in Syria, Secretary Kerry also announced nearly $25 million in additional food assistance for the Syrian people. This aid will provide 25,500 metric tons of wheat – providing four months’ supply of flour to over one million people – as well as food rations for those inside Syria and refugees in Jordan affected by the violence. The United Nations World Food Program will begin distributing the wheat to those in need in all 14 Syrian governorates as quickly as possible. The United States is the largest donor of food assistance both within Syria and for refugees in the affected neighboring countries and is providing a total of over $409 million in humanitarian assistance for the Syrian crisis.

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