WASHINGTON/BEIRUT: The Obama administration announced Friday it was seeking to boost non-lethal assistance to moderate Syrian opposition groups, as a Kurdish militia in the country’s east said coalition airstrikes were needed to blunt an offensive by ISIS militants.
To mark the fourth anniversary of the conflict, the State Department said it was working with Congress to provide an additional $70 million in aid to opposition groups, which includes $25 million for vetted members of the opposition to enhance their ability to defend themselves.
The department did not elaborate on the exact nature of the support, which in the past has included vehicles, medical kits and food.
Another $30 million will go to local authorities in rebel-held areas. The rest is for training to secure communications and collect evidence of possible war crimes.
“As we have long said, Assad must go and be replaced through a negotiated political transition that is representative of the Syrian people,” Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said in a statement.
If Congress approves it, the new aid will bring to nearly $400 million the amount the U.S. has given the opposition since 2011, while the White House’s new training program for “moderate” Syrian rebels is taking place in several countries in the region.