Ambassador’s Testimony Reveals More Syria Support
The U.S. is providing the Syrian opposition with $54 million more in non-lethal aid than originally reported. Secretary of State John Kerry announced late last month at a Friends of Syria meeting in Rome that the U.S. was offering the Syrian opposition $60 million in non-lethal assistance. But a classified briefing before House appropriators by Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, after Kerry’s announcement revealed that that was in addition to $54 million in aid money and equipment already pledged by the U.S. The aid is intended to “build a network of ethnically and religiously diverse civilian activists.” On its purpose, Ford said, “Preserving national unity and laying the foundation for a free Syria that respects the rights of all its citizens is essential if we are to secure a Syria that helps rather than threatens stability in the heart of the Middle East.”
Josh Rogin at The Cable obtained a breakdown of the administration’s $60 million in assistance to the Syrian opposition. Asked about the aid’s provisions at the State Department daily press briefing yesterday, Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland explained the budgetary breakdown had not yet been determined. The Cable reports that a significant share of the $60 million allocation supports the establishment of local civilian councils and transition programming, with smaller amounts provided for transitional justice, stabilization and safety training programs.
The $60 million pledge in non-lethal supplies and relief aid announced by Kerry has yet to be shipped, and Nuland said at yesterday’s press briefing that the U.S. was still in talks with the Free Syrian Army about the package details.