Syria’s moderate opposition gets more money to resist strongman baschar al-assad after clear rejection of terrorism. U.S. Secretary of state john kerry announced on sunday, after a meeting of the most important countries of the syria friends group with the rebels in istanbul, a doubling of american aid to 250 million u.S. Dollars (about 191 million euros). Germany increases its support by 15 million to 145 million euros.
Even after the meeting in istanbul, the group of friends still disputes whether assad’s opponents should also receive weapons from the west in the future. For germany, this is still taboo, according to federal minister guido westerwelle (FDP). EU partners such as great britain and france, on the other hand, are pushing hard to stop the european union’s ban on deliveries, which is still in place until the end of may.
The embargo will also be the subject of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in luxembourg this monday. Countries such as saudi arabia and qatar are already supplying weapons. Opponents of this practice argue that the weapons could end up in the wrong hands – that is, in the hands of the increasingly powerful jihadists in the country.
Under pressure from the west, the moderate opposition in istanbul distanced itself from the radical islamists. In a declaration, the so-called national coalition committed itself to the goal of building a democratic syria in which minorities are also not discriminated against. In the words of a declaration: "we reject all forms of terrorism and any extremist ideology or mentality"."
Westerwelle then announced that cooperation with the national coalition would now be "substantially" expanded. The federal government now wants to set up a liaison office in the turkish-syrian border region to help with reconstruction in areas that are already under rebel control. According to the words of the aubenminister, it is also ready for the delivery of so-called "non-fatal" military good. As an example, westerwelle cited only protective vests.
Immediately after the meeting, u.S. Secretary of defense john kerry had already announced that he would provide the rebels with more "non-lethal" equipment. However, the opposition also called for targeted air strikes on the assad regime’s missile arsenal. In addition, no-fly zones had to be enforced along the borders with turkey and jordan to allow refugees to cross the borders.
The chairman of the national coalition, muas al-chatib, expressed dissatisfaction with the international aid so far. "We expect more. The humanitarian situation in syria requires stronger support.Unlike the written statement, chatib also said at the final press conference: "the only terrorist movement in syria is the regime itself"."
Damascus sharply criticized the istanbul event. The newspaper of the ruling baath party, "al-thaura," described the conference on sunday as a meeting of "friends of terrorists.
Nationwide, the fighting continued over the weekend. By sunday afternoon, according to activists, some 190 people had died – most of them in the rough area of damascus. Opponents of the regime complained that militiamen from the radical shiite hezbollah movement in lebanon were increasingly involved in attacks by assad troops on syrian villages near the border. Hezbollah denies this.
The uprising against assad has cost the lives of more than 70,000 people since it began more than two years ago, according to UN estimates.