Syria Aid: U.S. To Send Non-Military Help To Dissidents

  on March 26 2012 11:16 AM
syria
A woman gestures in front of her house after heavy shelling by government forces in Sermeen, near the northern city of Idlib March 24, 2012. REUTERS

The United States and Turkey are formulating a plan to send non-lethal aid to Syria's embattled dissidents, a White House deputy national security adviser told reporters in Seoul on Sunday.

Non-lethal assistance could come comprise things like aid and medical supplies. The White House has resisted calls for military intervention or for funneling arms to Syrian opposition groups, opting instead for a combination of diplomatic pressure and quietly sending some humanitarian aid to rebel groups like the Free Syrian Army.

The deal with Turkey, a former ally of Syria that has been vocal in calling for president Bashar al-Assad to step aside, will formalize and increase that assistance, the New York Times reported. While no weapons will be included in the deal, the communications equipment will still help further the rebel cause.

It's important to the opposition as they're formulating their vision of an inclusive and democratic Syria to have the ability to communicate, Ben Rhod, the security adviser, told reporters.

Turkey PM Erdogan: We Cannot Remain A Spectator

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that we cannot remain a spectator to the ongoing bloodshed. Western nations have sought for months to stem the spiraling bloodshed in Syria with little success.

A U.N. Security Council resolution, modeled on an Arab League plan, that called for Assad's ouster withered after twin vetoes from Russia and China. Both countries defended themselves in the face of international denunciations by saying it was inappropriate to intervene in the affairs of a sovereign nation.

Since then, Russia has shown some signs of modifying its stance. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Assad has made many mistakes and suggested that no one is inviting him to Moscow should he resign, and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev criticized Annan during a weekend meeting with Kofi Annan, the U.N. and Arab League envoy to Syria.

This may be the last chance for Syria to avoid a protracted bloody civil war, Medvedev told Annan, who will next travel to China, during a meeting in Moscow. Therefore we will provide any assistance at any level.

The Obama administration has stopped short of advocating a military strike on Syria, although some lawmakers have been issuing increasingly urgent calls for action.

Providing military assistance to the Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups is necessary, but at this late hour, that alone will not be sufficient to stop the slaughter and save innocent lives, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said earlier this month. The only realistic way to do so is with foreign airpower.

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