US Helping Arm Syria Rebels... But Not Actually Arming Them
Gulf nations providing cash, US providing information
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2012 3:00 AM CDT
Syrian rebels sit on their armored vehicle as they patrol in Homs province.   (AP Photo/Fadi Zaidan)
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(Newser) – Syrian rebels have been receiving large shipments of arms in recent weeks with the help of the US, but the Obama administration is going out of its way to stress that it's not forking over weapons or money. Instead, the Washington Post reports, Washington is coordinating efforts to arm the rebels by sharing information and contacts in the rebel military with Persian Gulf nations, who are in turn coughing up millions of dollars every month.

"We are increasing our nonlethal assistance to the Syrian opposition, and we continue to coordinate our efforts with friends and allies in the region and beyond," a senior State Department official says. The new supplies are helping rebels flex their muscles and reverse recent setbacks. In a clash between rebels and government forces near the rebel-held city of Rastan earlier this week, rebel forces overran a government base and killed 23 soldiers, according to a human rights group. “Large shipments have got through,” says a rebel source. “Some areas are loaded with weapons.”