The United States ramped up its support for Syria's opposition with a pledge of nearly $100 million in fresh aid on Saturday. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's top diplomat described the timing of the departure of Syrian President Bashar Assad and the withdrawal of foreign fighters as top sticking points to finding a lasting resolution to the civil war in Syria. The American promise of cash, which it says brings to nearly $500 million the amount it has pledged to the opposition since 2012, came a day after the US announced it was intensifying its fight against the Islamic State in Syria with the deployment of up to 50 special operations troops.
It also coincided with the completion of international talks in Vienna to pursue a new peace effort involving Syria's Iranian-backed government and opposition groups. The negotiations left open the thorny question of when Assad might leave power, and it was unclear whether he or disparate rebel groups fighting to topple him would sign on to any peace proposal. A new round of talks was expected to take place within two weeks. The new US funds will support local and provincial councils, civil society activists, emergency services, and other needs on the ground inside Syria. (Read more Syria stories.)