Kerry Unveils $60M in Aid for Syria Rebels

But purely of the 'non-lethal' variety

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 28, 2013 7:39 AM CST

(Newser) – The US intends to step up its "non-lethal" aid to the Syrian opposition, John Kerry announced after a meeting of the "Friends of Syria" group in Rome today. The Obama administration will ask Congress for $60 million in aid, along with food rations, and medical supplies, the BBC reports. "The US decision to take further steps now is the result of the brutality of superior armed force propped up by foreign fighters from Iran and Hezbollah," Kerry said.

But the move doesn't go as far as reports yesterday indicated it might, NPR points out—there was no mention of body armor, armored vehicles, or military training, for instance. US officials say the opposition has brought up "other needs," and that it is "keeping that under review." In the meantime, Britain and other nations are likely to provide such equipment, the Washington Post reports. But despite the caution, one Syrian leader expressed optimism, Reuters reports. "We heard today a different kind of discourse," he said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry talks to Syrian opposition coalition leader Mouaz al-Khatib during an international conference on Syria at Villa Madama, Rome, Feb. 28, 2013.
US Secretary of State John Kerry talks to Syrian opposition coalition leader Mouaz al-Khatib during an international conference on Syria at Villa Madama, Rome, Feb. 28, 2013.   (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)
US Secretary of State John Kerry, Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, and Syrian opposition leader Mouaz al-Khatib at a meeting in Rome, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, and Syrian opposition leader Mouaz al-Khatib at a meeting in Rome, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013.   (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)
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