Syria conflict: John Kerry extends US aid to rebels

The US is to step up its support for the Syrian opposition as it fights to topple President Bashar al-Assad, Secretary of State John Kerry says, according to BBC.Mr Kerry said the US would provide direct support to rebel forces in the form of medical and food supplies. He also promised an additional $60m in aid to the opposition to help it deliver basic governance and other services in rebel-controlled areas.Mr Kerry was speaking at a gathering of the Friends of Syria group in Rome. The promise of direct, non-lethal aid to the rebels represents a shift in US policy on Syria, correspondents say.However it falls short of providing the weapons and munitions that the rebels say they need to defeat government forces.Mr Kerry said the decision was designed to increase the pressure on President Assad to step down and allow a democratic transition. “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.”“President Assad is out of time and must be out of power,” said Mr Kerry, adding that the Syrian leader could not “shoot his way out” of the situation.The $60m in aid to the opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) represents a doubling of US support.In the latest fighting, rebel forces have captured the historic Umayyad Mosque in Aleppo, according to an activist group.

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