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U.S. Continues to Send Nonlethal Aid to Syrian Opposition

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The United States will continue to funnel nonlethal aid to the Syrian opposition, and urges the international community to unite against Bashar Assad’s regime, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.

The State Department is providing $100 million worth of nonlethal aid to those seeking to overthrow Assad. The opposition in Syria rose after protestors brought down long-term regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.

“The people of Syria are being brutalized by the Assad regime,” Little told reporters. The United Nations estimates that there are 30,000 dead in Syria from the fighting between the Assad regime and the opposition. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the country, and hundreds of thousands more are displaced within Syria.

Tensions in the region have escalated, with Jordan and Turkey hosting most of the refugees. Syrian regime forces have fired into Turkey, and the Turks have responded in kind.

Little called on the international community to do more to isolate the Assad regime. “What this points out is the need for greater international consensus on how to move forward on Syria,” he said. “We have called on the international community to unite, and those efforts have been stymied.”

U.S. policy is to increase diplomatic and economic pressure on the regime and to provide humanitarian assistance. “That’s the right course of action at this stage,” Little said.

The United States will work with all nations who want to see the Assad regime go, the press secretary said. “That’s where the focus needs to be,” he added. “Others in the international community don’t quite see eye-to-eye with us and our allies and partners, and I hope that at some point we see greater coherence.”

The Defense Department is working closely with Jordanian government officials to help them build their country’s capacity to deal with the refugee crisis, Little told reporters. “We are very concerned about refugee flows into Jordan,” he said. “We’re concerned about [chemical and biological warfare], along with our Jordanian allies. We’re working closely with them to monitor the [Syrian] CBW sites.”

Article by Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service