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US Doubles Non-Lethal Aid to Syrian Rebels - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a press conference at the Friends of Syria meeting on April 20, 2013 in Istanbul. (AFP)

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a press conference at the Friends of Syria meeting on April 20, 2013, in Istanbul. (AFP)

Istanbul, Asharq Al-Awsat—US Secretary of State John Kerry announced today that the US will double its non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition.

Kerry announced the new package in a written statement at the end of a two-day conference that began on Saturday afternoon and stretched into early Sunday.

The additional aid, which brings total non-lethal US assistance to the opposition to USD 250 million since the fighting began, “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 US secretary of state said.

However, the pledge fell far short of what the opposition had made clear it wanted: weapons and direct military intervention. The Syrian National Coalition had sought drone strikes on sites from which the regime has fired missiles, the imposition of no-fly zones, and protected humanitarian corridors to ensure the safety of civilians.

The US and its European and Arab allies are struggling to find ways to stem the escalating violence that has led to fears that chemical weapons may have been used.

In other news, an 18-year-old Chicago man accused of planning to join an Al-Qaeda-linked group fighting in Syria has been arrested by the FBI.

Abdella Ahmad Tounisi of Aurora, Illinois, was taken into custody late Friday as he prepared to board a plane at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport bound for Turkey, the FBI said in a statement.

It added that Tounisi was a friend of Adel Daoud, an American accused of trying to stage a bombing outside a downtown Chicago bar last year. The agency said Tounisi had not been involved in that plot.

Syria is in the grips of a civil war that began in 2011 as a revolt against President Bashar Al-Assad and has killed more than 70,000 people.