Bloomberg News

Syria Opposition Welcomes U.S. Arms Shift, Awaits Implementation

June 14, 2013

The U.S. decision to arm the Syrian opposition is a “good” step and should be implemented as soon as possible, a senior member of the Syrian National Coalition said.

“We welcome the U.S. step,” Abdelbaset Sieda said in a phone interview from Stockholm today. “We are waiting for its execution.” He said the decision “came very late” and Syria could have avoided escalating violence, an increase in Islamic extremism and the spillover of the conflict into other countries had there been a “firm” U.S. position from the start.

Another member of the coalition, Najib Ghadbian, said in a statement posted by the group on its Facebook page that the U.S. support should be “strategic and decisive in order to force an end to the violence and to achieve a political transition and improve chances of a successful Geneva II conference.”

The U.S. is stepping up assistance to opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, including aid that would have “direct military purposes on the ground,” Ben Rhodes, U.S. President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said yesterday, without elaborating. Russia, which has backed Assad, and the U.S. are also pushing for peace talks in Geneva.

To contact the reporter on this story: Donna Abu-Nasr in Beirut at dabunasr@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net


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