Syrian Rebel Chief: U.S. Aid Would Boost Rebels

The commander of the main Western-backed rebel group fighting in Syria said Friday he hoped that U.S. weapons will be in the hands of rebels in the near future, saying it will boost the morale of the fighters on the ground.

The comments by Gen. Salim Idris to Al-Arabiya TV followed a decision by President Barack Obama to authorize sending weapons to Syrian rebels, marking a deepening of U.S. involvement in Syria's two-year civil war.

The decision came a day after the United Nations said nearly 93,000 people have been confirmed dead in Syria's civil war, but the actual number is believed to be much higher.

In addition to the increased military aid, the U.S. also announced Thursday it had conclusive evidence that President Bashar Assad's regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against opposition forces. The White House said multiple chemical attacks last year killed up to 150 people.

Obama has said the use of chemical weapons cross a "red line" triggering greater U.S involvement in the crisis.

"We hope to have the weapons and ammunition that we need in the near future," Idris told Al-Arabiya.

"This will surely reflect positively on the rebels' morale, which is high despite attempts by the regime, Hizbullah and Iran to show that their morale after the fall of Qusayr deteriorated," he said, referring to a key town near the Lebanese border.

Assad's forces, aided by fighters from Hizbullah, captured Qusayr on June 5, dealing a heavy blow to rebels who had been entrenched in the strategic town for over a year.

Since then, the regime has shifted its attention to recapture other areas in the central Homs province and Aleppo to the north.

The regime's advances have added urgency to U.S. discussions on whether to provide the rebels with weapons.

Source: Associated Press

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