Obama clears way for non-lethal aid to Syrian rebels

Obama syriaObama clears way for chemical weapons related assistance for Syrian opposition. (Photo courtesy: Reuters)

US President Barack Obama has cleared the way for providing non-lethal assistance, including those related to chemical weapons, to the Syrian opposition fighting the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad.

"This action is part of longstanding and ongoing efforts to provide life-saving chemical weapons-related assistance to people in need in Syria," said Caitlin Hayden, spokesperson of the National Security Council.

Obama has signed a presidential determination in this regard. Assistance cleared for the Syrian opposition includes chemical weapons-related personal protective equipment and life-saving assistance to protect against the chemical arms.

Meanwhile, in an interview to the PBS News Hour, head of the opposition Free Syrian Army Gen Salim Idris said that they are close to throwing out the Assad regime.

"We are very close to throw out Assad and collapse the regime. And I have hope to do it tomorrow, and we hope that our friends in the United States and our friends in Europe will help us because the Russians and Iranians are helping the criminal regime," he said.

He also urged the US to organise a no fly zone over Syria. "They can organize a no fly zone over the country with the support of the western countries with the support of the Security Council...They can help us doing strikes using long distance rockets using air force and not to directly send fighters to the ground," he said.

Responding to a question on concerns that arms given to the opposition could end up in the hands of jihadists, he said the FSA is ready to give any kinds of guarantees that the US need to ensure that any kind of weapons and ammunition that they will deliver will be in the right hands.

"And all other jihadist or extremist groups will not have any access to this kinds of support and now we don't share information with them, we don't support them, we don't give them ammunition and weapons," he said.

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