U.S., UK Suspend Non-Lethal Assistance into Northern Syria

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Britain said Wednesday it has suspended non-lethal aid to the opposition in northern Syria after Islamist rebels seized key bases belonging to the Free Syrian Army, following a similar move by the United States.

"We have no plans to deliver any equipment while the situation remains unclear," a spokesman for the British embassy in Ankara told Agence France Presse.

The Islamic Front, the largest Islamist rebel force in Syria, seized depots belonging to the Western-backed FSA near the Bab el-Hawa border crossing with Turkey on Saturday.

Britain is "in contact with the SMC (Supreme Military Council)" to investigate the status of British equipment, the spokesman said, referring to the highest military authority in the FSA.

The move does not mean that British support for the Syrian opposition is diminishing, he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Washington also suspended non-lethal aid to rebels in the Syrian north.

"We have seen reports that Islamic Front forces have seized the Atmeh headquarters and warehouses belonging to the Supreme Military Council and we are obviously concerned," T.J. Grubisha, spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Ankara, told AFP.

"Because of the current situation, the United States has suspended deliveries of non-lethal assistance into northern Syria," he said.

The Islamic Front, the largest Islamist rebel force in Syria, seized depots belonging to the FSA near the Bab el-Hawa border crossing with Turkey on Saturday.

The group on Tuesday also took control of the crossing itself, the Syrian Observatory for Human rights, a monitoring group, said.

Non-lethal aid provided to the rebels by Washington has included armored vehicles, night vision goggles and advanced communications equipment.

Grubisha said the U.S. decision to suspend such aid would not impact on humanitarian assistance which was coordinated by international and non-governmental organizations including the United Nations.

"We are gathering the facts and consulting with friends of the Syrian opposition on next steps in support of the Syrian people," Grubisha said.

"We are working with General Idriss and SMC staff to inventory the status of U.S. equipment and supplies provided to the SMC," he added, referring to the Supreme Military Council of the FSA headed by Selim Idriss.

The Islamic Front was formed last month when six groups merged and pledged to work towards forming an Islamic state. It has rejected the authority of the FSA.

Turkey on Tuesday shut its side of the border in Hatay province after the Islamic Front seized the Bab al-Hawa post, customs officials said in a statement.

"The crossing into Syria via Cilvegozu has been closed ... due to the clashes between rebel groups in Syria," the statement said.

But a foreign ministry official, contacted by AFP, said the measure was temporary and would not affect refugees entering Turkey.

Turkey, which is fiercely opposed to the regime of President Bashar Assad, has taken in about 600,000 refugees from the Syrian conflict and has become a base for Syrian rebels and army defectors who form the very core of the FSA.

The FSA was the first organized rebel military entity to emerge after peaceful demonstrations against the Assad regime in 2011 degenerated into an armed uprising.

Since then, numerous other groups have emerged, many of them Islamist, which are operating with a high degree of autonomy from the FSA if not totally independently.

Syria's civil war, which has killed more than 126,000 people and displaced millions, has become more complicated as jihadist and other rebel groups battle not only Assad but, increasingly, each other.

The United States has not committed to providing any weaponry for Syrian rebels out of fear that it may end up in the hands of extremists.

Comments 17
Thumb mckinl 11 December 2013, 12:57

It is all going very badly for the plans of the US. How can the opposition of Assad claim any relevance on the ground?

The US, EU and Russia and many other countries are on the same page now. That is they can not allow Syria to become a terrorist haven.

The US has botched every country it has intervened in. Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and now Syria ...

This has been the worst foreign policy era in the history of the US by far. Their alliances with Zionists and Takfiris have blown up in their face.

Thumb BeautifulMind 11 December 2013, 19:07

I remember 2 years ago, a wise-man said, "All this assistance from the west is going to end up in the terrorists hand no matter what twist or spin the USA and other put on it." He also, " When you funding opposition, you are funding terrorists because when someone is against our culture of Baath, he is, sadly and automatically a terrorists." "We have proven this in the past, particularly in 1980's and we will prove it in the future." Added Assad.

Thumb Mystic 12 December 2013, 03:01


Missing helicopter 12 December 2013, 03:39

................because when someone is against our culture of Baath, he is, sadly and automatically a terrorists...................

"our culture of Baath"???????? You are a Syrian, aren't you. All this time you passed as an M8er (close ideology and lloyalty).
You remind me of "josh bostany" ..... did you change names and avatars?

Thumb makhaleh 11 December 2013, 14:29

Wow this isnt good at all doesnt look like syria is gonna have a winner in this war my heart goes out to all the innocent pple that are effected by this war for power there

Thumb mckinl 11 December 2013, 14:47

Well done ...

Thumb cedre 11 December 2013, 15:01

Ok, so Kerry will stop sending the almost-expired noodle pots...


U keep it coz most FSA throw them and u give them to ur millions of yanks of food stamps...

Thumb geha 11 December 2013, 18:01

once more:
this is the agreement: all countries stop their support to Syria.
now iran needs to comply, otherwise the whole deal will break down.

Missing george710 11 December 2013, 18:53

Why should they stop Assads case is only stronger now.

Missing m.c. 11 December 2013, 19:13

Even though I partially agree with you, death in the Middle East started among themselves and will only end when inner fighting stops. No body will ever fix the Mid East problems except true reform and years of evolution to transform to true democracy. The facts are and will continue to be, 99.9% of Muslims are killed by other Muslims, blaming the West or anyone else for it is simply distorting the facts. The West doesn't cheer, they just don't give a damn any more and I agree when they say it is your problem so fix it.

Missing m.c. 11 December 2013, 20:41

I sleep well at night, don't be naive, I don't know you so I have no idea by what you mean by "WE THE WEST". Don't lecture me and the blood of all the children and everyone else is on the hands of crab governments and no one else. To blame the West is simply hiding from the truth. Assad alone is responsible for the death of thousands in Lebanon and Syria, Saddam Hussein was much worse with his wars against Iran, Kuwait and his own people (The West was wrong for invading Iraq), I can name you endless examples why there are many dead in the Middle East but I don't believe it will change your opinion.

Missing dcnzogh 11 December 2013, 22:13

So, LETHAL AID is still being sent?

Thumb cedre 11 December 2013, 23:23

why sis u see any or just repeating what u hear ?

Missing --karim_m3-- 11 December 2013, 22:35

I love how these countries make a distinction between FSA-Al Qaeda and the jihadists. They're both the same thing! They're both jihadist terrorists who massacre, behead, and suicide-bomb civilians.

Missing m.c. 12 December 2013, 00:32

bigjohn, what's your point, if you are justifying killing because one segment did more of it than the other, than you are solidifying my argument that Muslims kill Muslims at a much higher rate than others, I appreciate your affirmation of that.

Thumb zahle1 12 December 2013, 03:52

This one goes out to all of the M14 who blindly support FSA against the Syrian regime. This isn't Beirut. The majority of the Syrian opposition are not made up of Sunni moderates. Again, I am against Iran in Lebanon, and KSA. But, the growing number of Sunni extremists/Salafi/takfiri...are the greatest threat to Christianity in the Middle East.

Default-user-icon Amriki (Guest) 12 December 2013, 11:01

Fascinating how Arab men are long on blame and VERY short on personal responsibility! While the U.S. has made mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan (and I agree the administration of Barak Obama is the worst foreign policy administration the U.S. has EVER had), the U.S set both those countries up to be economically, politically and socially successful. ALL the tools were provided. What didn’t happen in those countries was personal responsibility! Instead, both countries leadership and dysfunctional Theocracy squandered every resource provided and chose to steal ,loot and leave out the common citizen for personal or political gain. No, this is not the U.S’s. fault, one needs only to look in the mirror to find the face of blame.