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Opposition allies vow to end Syria imbalance

US Secretary of State says Friends of Syria group to decide own 'scope and scale' of military aid to rebel fighters.

Last Modified: 22 Jun 2013 13:51
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Kerry said each nation will decide the level of assistance it would give [Reuters]

Syrian rebels are to receive increased political and military assistance from the Friends of Syria group of nations - with the "scope and scale" of aid to be chosen by individual members, the US Secretary of State has said.

Speaking at the conference in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday John Kerry said that while the United States did not seek a military solution to the war in Syria, the regime of Bashar al-Assad had crossed a "red line" with its reported use of chemical weapons.

"The United States and other countries, in their various ways - each choosing its own approach - will increase the scope and the scale of assistance to the political and military opposition. That is why we are working with our allies gathered here today to coordinate our support to the Syria [National] Coalition and the Supreme Military Council. And I emphasise, we do so not to seek a military solution. [We seek them to] come to the table to find a political settlement."

"Both sides should be able to compromise. Both sides should come to the table," he said.

Red line

"The regime's use of chemical weapons crosses [US President Barack] Obama's and other nations' red lines. We also condemn any atrocities ... committed by the opposition groups."

Spotlight
In-depth coverage of escalating violence across Syria

Al Jazeera's Basma Al Atassi, reporting from the conference, said Kerry also said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "internationalised the militarisation" of the conflict by allowing Iran's and its proxy Hezbollah's involvement.

Kerry added that this was Assad's response to efforts to organise a peace conference in Geneva.

The Friends of Syria group, which comprises Britain, France, the US, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Egypt, was meeting in the capital of Qatar to decide what levels of military help should be given to rebel groups in Syria.

Saturday's meeting began only hours after Syrian rebels stated that they had received a new shipment of weapons from their allies and just days after the US announced its decision to deliver arms to the fighters.

Kerry's comments were followed by those of Qatar's Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, who said  "force may be the only way to enforce righteousness and supplying weapons to the opposition may be the only way to reach peace in Syria".

"As we know there are international and regional interventions, especially by Hezbollah, that led to bloodshed, especially in Qusayr and the same thing is being arranged in Aleppo."

European aid

Earlier, the UK's foreign secretary, William Hauge said his nation's parliament would decide on whether it would send arms to Syrian rebels.

"There is no change in the UK policy towards Syria on the much debated question of providing lethal aid of any kind to the oppsition, We have taken no decision to do that."

He said it was up to the parliament in the UK to take such a decision.

He said his country would focus on delivering more humanitarian aid and promoting a political solution, and there was only a political solution to the conflict. 

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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