White House: US and Allies Looking at ‘Non-Lethal’ Aid for Syrian Rebels

Posted March 25th, 2012 at 5:55 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

The White House says U.S. President Barack Obama is looking to provide Syrian rebels with what Washington calls “non-lethal” aid in their fight to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

Mr. Obama met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Sunday in Seoul, where they are attending a nuclear security summit.

A White House official says the the United States wants to help the rebels with medical supplies and communications equipment. But he said the discussions did not include arming the opposition.

The official says the United States will bring up the matter of non-lethal aid at a Friends of Syria meeting in Turkey on April 1. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to attend.

Meanwhile, U.N. and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan is in Moscow to try to convince Russia to support international calls for a cease-fire and talks in Syria.

Russia and China have vetoed Security Council action against Syria, saying such action interferes in its internal affairs. But both supported a Council statement last week endorsing Mr. Annan's peace plan.

Russia has also called on the Syrians to give humanitarian aid workers a chance to help beleaguered civilians.

Also Sunday, Human Rights Watch accused the Syrian army of using civilians – including children and the elderly – as human shields against rebel attacks.

The group bases its report on interviews with some of those forced to march in front of government tanks in towns and villages in Idlib province.

Human Rights Watch calls the use of human shields “abhorrent” and is demanding the army immediately stop the practice.

The United Nations says at least 8,000 people have been killed in the Assad government's crackdown on the revolt, which began one year ago with peaceful protests, then became increasingly militarized.