´Friends of Syria´ to Send Millions in Aid to Rebels (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) By Elad Benari 04/02/12)
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A coalition of more than 70 partners, including the United States,
pledged on Sunday to send millions of dollars and communications
equipment to Syria´s opposition groups, The Associated Press reported.
The decision came during the conference of the “Friends of Syria” in
Istanbul, during which it was debated whether, and if so, how to arm
rebel fighters against the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria.
The move signals deeper involvement in the conflict amid a growing
belief that diplomacy and sanctions alone cannot end the Damascus
regime´s brutal crackdown against protesters.
The summit meeting follows a year of failed diplomacy that seems
close to running its course with a troubled peace plan led by UN-Arab
League envoy Kofi Annan.
AP reported that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other
participants at the conference uniformly expressed concern that
Annan´s plan might backfire, speculating that Assad would try to
manipulate it to prolong his hold on power.
Clinton said she was waiting for Annan´s report to the UN Security
Council on Monday on the status of his peace plan.
“There cannot be process for the sake of process,” AP quoted her as
having said. “There has to be a timeline. If Assad continues as he
has, to fail to end the violence, to institute a cease-fire, to
withdraw his troops from the areas he has been battering ... then
it´s unlikely he is going to ever agree. Because it is a clear signal
that he wants to wait to see if he has totally suppressed the
opposition. I think he would be mistaken to believe that. My reading
is that the opposition is gaining in intensity, not losing.”
Assad accepted the six-point peace plan brokered by Annan last week.
The plan has the backing of the entire UN Security Council for the
first time, including Russia and China.
Despite the acceptance, however, fresh clashes erupted between Syrian
soldiers and rebels across many parts of Syria on Friday.
On Saturday, at least 25 people were killed Saturday in bombing by
Assad’s forces, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for
Human Rights. The killings took place in the southern province of
Dera´a, in the central city of Homs, and in the northwestern province
of Idlib, near the border with Turkey.
Clinton said on Sunday the United States is providing communications
equipment to help anti-government activists in Syria organize, remain
in contact with the outside world and evade regime attacks.
AP quoted conference participants in Istanbul as having said that
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries are creating a fund to pay
members of the rebel Free Syrian Army and soldiers who defect from
the regime and join opposition ranks. One delegate described the fund
as a "pot of gold" to undermine Assad´s army.
Participants confirmed the Gulf plan on condition of anonymity
because details were still being worked out, AP noted. One said the
fund would involve several million dollars a month.
The report also noted that Clinton announced $12 million in
additional aid for Syria´s people, doubling the total U.S. assistance
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted by AP as
having said that military options might have to be considered if
Syria does not cooperate with Annan´s plan and the U.N. Security
Council does not unite against Assad.
“If the UN Security Council fails once again to bring about its
historic responsibility, there will be no other choice than to
support the Syrian people´s right to self-defense,” Erdogan said.
China and Russia have vetoed several Security Council resolutions
calling on Assad to resign and end the violence.
On Friday, Annan demanded the Syrian government implement the
ceasefire it previously agreed to immediately.
"The deadline is now," an Annan spokesman said, adding the former UN
chief believed Assad needed "to make a good faith gesture."
On Thursday, the UN’s human rights chief Navi Pillay said there is
enough evidence to bring human rights charges against Assad over his
year-long crackdown on protesters.
“Factually there’s enough evidence pointing to the fact that many of
these acts are committed by the security forces, (and) must have
received the approval or the complicity at the highest level,” she
told the BBC. (IsraelNationalNews © 2012 04/02/12)
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