Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Sunday that the United States would send more non-lethal aid to moderate Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and at times, Islamic extremist groups.
The U.S., in conjunction with the 11-nation “Friends of Syria” group, have also agreed to coordinate military aid to the moderate rebels through the Syrian Military Council, the opposition’s military wing, in an effort to curb the flow of weapons to extremists.
“I’m going to press to make sure this is a matter of weeks. It has to happen quickly; it has to have an impact,” Kerry said at a press conference in Istanbul, adding that the U.S. is confident that the opposition is taking the right steps to assure the West that it is committed, ultimately, to a political solution to the civil war and that it has no intentions of establishing a non-democratic state should Assad fall.
On Saturday, leaders of the Syrian Opposition Coalition called on the international community to enforce a no-fly zone to defend against Scud and ballistic missile attacks by Assad’s forces.
The Obama administration has sent nearly $400 million in non-lethal aid to the rebels and the latest round, said to total $123 million, will reportedly include night vision goggles and body armor.
In other news:
- The Wall Street Journal reports: Iran is accelerating its efforts to buoy its non-oil trade and to find new markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East as it struggles for economic survival amid an intensifying U.S. financial war on Tehran and its allies, the country’s chief economic manager said in an interview.
- USA Today reports: The U.S. military is increasing its budget for cyber-warfare and expanding its offensive capabilities, including the ability to blind an enemy’s radar or shut down its command systems in the event of war, according to two defense officials.