US, EU Ready to Step Up Aid to Syrian Rebels

But President Obama insists on keeping aid 'non-lethal' for now
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2013 4:43 AM CDT
US, EU Ready to Step Up Aid to Syrian Rebels
British foreign Secretary William Hague, right, greets US Secretary of State John Kerry at the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting at Lancaster House earlier today.   (AP Photo / Peter Macdiarmid, pool)

The United States and several leading EU states appear poised to increase non-lethal aid to Syrian opposition groups, adding equipment such as body armor and night-vision goggles, reports the Wall Street Journal. Arms, however, remain off the table, as President Obama fears they could fall into the hands of al-Qaeda-affiliated groups. The White House is also reviewing military options, such as bombing Syrian aircraft on the ground or adding Patriot anti-missile batteries to Turkey to defend against Syrian rockets.

“It’s not going to turn the tide in the battle, but of course it helps,” one analyst tells the New York Times. Over in Europe, there are signs Britain and France are interested in stepping up their assistance to rebel groups by letting the EU arms embargo against Syria expire at the end of May. At a Group of Eight meeting in London yesterday, Syrian opposition groups once again called for increased military assistance, asking for antiaircraft and antitank guns. The news comes as Human Rights Watch declares more than 4,300 civilians have been killed in government airstrikes since July, Al Jazeera adds. (More Syria stories.)

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