U.S. Announces Non-Lethal Aid To Syrian Opposition, Including Food, Medical Supplies

“The U.S. unveiled a package of non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition, as the U.K. was expected to provide combat gear, in a new Western effort to support the fight against President Bashar al-Assad that Syrian rebels immediately blasted as insufficient,” the Wall Street Journal reports (Solomon/Malas, 2/28). “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that the Syrian opposition coalition was the ‘legitimate voice of the Syrian people,’ and for the first time will receive direct, non-lethal support from Washington,” including food and medical supplies, the Associated Press/CBS News writes (2/28). “Kerry said the [additional] $60 million would strengthen the coalition’s organizational capacity, and help war-torn communities with respect to sanitation, food delivery, public order, education and medical care,” Agence France-Presse adds (2/28).

“The promise of direct, non-lethal aid to the rebels represents a shift in U.S. policy on Syria, correspondents say,” BBC News writes (2/28). The Associated Press/CBS News notes, “Washington has already provided $385 million in humanitarian aid to Syria’s war-weary population and $54 million in communications equipment, medical supplies and other non-lethal assistance to Syria’s political opposition” (2/28). A special briefing document on U.S. aid to Syria is available on the State Department’s webpage (2/28). In related news, the U.N. said on Thursday “[s]ome $1.5 billion (£1 billion) in aid pledged to Syria has largely failed to materialize, … as the number of refugees who have fled the country reaches one million,” the Guardian writes (Weaver/Harding, 2/28).