'Friends of Syria' Agrees to Boost Aid to Rebels until Assad Goes

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية W460

World powers urged Syrian President Bashar Assad to commit to peace, but warned Thursday that if he fails to negotiate a political transition they would boost their backing of the opposition.

The stark warning came from a meeting of the Friends of Syria group, which held talks on Wednesday in Amman to try to agree the contours of a peace conference to end the war.

The conflict, now in its third year, has claimed some 94,000 lives.

The United States and Russia have backed opposite sides in the conflict, but hope to bring the warring sides together at the conference next month, although a date and venue remain unclear.

"We would call on President Assad to exhibit the same commitment to trying to find peace in his own country. That is critical," U.S. Secretary of State Kerry told a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh ahead of the talks.

After meeting late into the night, the 11 ministers from the Friends of Syria group laid out a grim choice for Assad: he and his associates with "blood on their hands" had no role to play in the future of Syria, they said.

If the regime refused to negotiate a transitional government, then they would boost their support for the opposition, they said.

"The ministers also emphasized that until such time as the Geneva meeting produces a transitional government, they will further increase their support for the opposition and take all other steps as necessary," a final statement said.

A U.S. official would not confirm whether that meant Washington would finally overcome its reluctance to send arms to the rebels.

"All of the countries agreed that the support to the opposition is a tactic that works towards achieving a strategy of securing a negotiated political settlement," the official said, asking not to be named.

"We've long said that it's important to change (Assad's) calculation, and in order to change his calculation the balance of power on the ground must change.

"So, the communique states we will increase our support to the opposition and the goal of that is to change the balance on the ground."

The ministers met for over two hours, first behind closed doors at an Amman hotel, then holding three hours of talks with the interim president of the Syrian National Coalition, George Sabra, and two other rebel leaders.

The communique denounced ethnic cleansing, "identified as the corner stone of a political solution the formation of a transitional governing body through mutual consent."

And it condemned the intervention of foreign fighters, including Hizbullah and Iranians backing the Damascus regime.

In another sign of the growing impatience with Assad, French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron said they would seek European support for their proposal to arm the Syrian opposition.

"We are prepared to lift the arms embargo further so that the opposition can present themselves as the legitimate voice of the Syrian people," Cameron told reporters during a brief stopover in Paris.

The foreign ministers of Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States attended the meeting in the Jordanian capital.

Qatari Foreign Minister Hassem bin Jassem al-Thani unleashed a furious tirade against Assad, accusing him of "continuing to kill his people with outside help and using banned weapons.

"Syria is totally destroyed, and all so that the regime can stay in place. We are with you and we will stay with you," he told Sabra.

All eyes are likely now to turn to Istanbul where the opposition is to start meetings on electing a new president, expand its "parliament" and begin the process of choosing an interim government.

Neither the opposition nor Damascus has yet publicly said who they would send to attend the peace conference, likely to be held in June.

But U.S. officials said Washington had been told by third parties that the Syrian regime delegation would be led by Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi.

Comments 18
Thumb geha 23 May 2013, 07:35

this how you keep the status quo:
- each time one side gets the upper hand, you give the other side more weapons and resources.
all the west wants is to have all extremists kill each other in Syria and keep them busy doing that, so they relieve themselves from terrorist attacks on their soil.
this war will drag even more....

Thumb mckinl 23 May 2013, 11:10

Don't forget those who are paying most of the bill ...

It is the KSA and Qatar that are funding the vast majority of this carnage.

Thumb geha 23 May 2013, 17:04

Actually the one paying the most is iran and this war is depleting their reserves to a point they are close to implode.
this is a war by proxy between sunnis and shia, farsi and arabs. instead of having it happening on their territories, it is happening on Syrian soil.
anyway, the end result is the destruction of Syria and the fall of iran.

Thumb geha 23 May 2013, 18:02

keep dreaming of shia grandor :)
there is no way iran will remain as is.

Missing mfawaz 23 May 2013, 07:36

HA HA HA: NOW THEY WILL PAY 75000 per terrorirts. Go play with your other toys...Bashar is staying. And I love all the Hezballah led or Hezballah supported syrian army. keep making proud of powerfull our glorious resistance is, that they can be back up or a 500 thousand man army. Remember, that civilion equation Bashar initiated 6 months ago. Tranining a civilian force to fight along the troops side. HMMM ...and if FSA LOST Qusair and only lost a 100 men...then well you dumb...the city is important. you knew the attack was coming...and there is 100k terroris..in syria...surely it would be defend by 5k...to truely defend and loose....gotto be at least 60% loss doesnt it!

Missing siyeseh 23 May 2013, 20:12


Default-user-icon Khashtakov Zublaidin (Guest) 23 May 2013, 07:57

Is Assad still there? How come? Dr. Arreet 7akeh said he would be gone in 2011 and then in 2012! We all know that the doc is a man of his word unlike all the other Le Michels. Now the doc may have made the same mistake TWICE already, but he seems to have corrected them by telling the hopeless hopefuls that Assad MIGHT fall again in 2013. However, according to NostraGabbyMarch14 and the other Nostras of March 14 and Lebanon First Some Twenty-Two Damn Years Late and Still, Assad will fall every Wednesday in 2013. Otherwise, he will fall every Saturday in 2014. As to subsequent years, the specific day of the week has been kept hush hush! You go, Nostras. With a leader such as Dr. Arreet 7akeh, how could you go wrong? The future is rosier than ever. Keep up the good work, late-blooming warriors.

Missing primate 23 May 2013, 08:48

Language of War!!!! We don't eat human hearts or hack an innocent human being in middle of a London street ! You Sunnis are cannibals as far as we are concerned , khay mahla Jews !! Compared to you Sunnis !!!!

Missing siyeseh 23 May 2013, 20:16

You chainsawed people in iraq just to give you an example. Check out the crimes of the badr militia moron. Hacking innocent human beings has been done by shiites in many places around the middle east.

Missing primate 23 May 2013, 09:02

Shame , shame , on you mainstream Moslems for staying silent !!!! Let us hear your voice ! For once you are against such inhuman acts !!!!!

Missing siyeseh 23 May 2013, 20:18

Shame shame shame on you hypocrites. We are not responsible for what every single muslim does anymore than you are responsible for what every coreligionist of yours does, unless you agree with it which i suspect you do.

Missing -karim_m1 23 May 2013, 11:54

LOL, the backers of Al Qaeda are panicking that their terrorist soldiers are getting slaughtered.

Missing maroun 23 May 2013, 12:07

when the rebels finish with bashar they are coming after idiots like you Karim..

Missing maroun 23 May 2013, 12:06

about time they arm the rebel proper..the butcher needs to go along with his supporters.

Missing ihatepersia 23 May 2013, 13:35

no one is sending money to the syrian freedom fighters.
all are backing assad secretly or in the open.

Thumb beiruti 23 May 2013, 16:22

These guys are dreaming if they think there is some formula whereby the guys who cut open bodies of soldiers so as to eat their body organs will be able to govern with the families of the persons whom they have eaten.
The situation in Syria has devolved to canibalism, quite literally. So now there is going to be a peace conference somewhere and they will all agree to just get along??? Don't bet on it.
This is a fight to the death of one side or the other. Either the Alawi will subdue the Sunni or the Sunni will return the Alawi to where they were before the French Occupation. The only middle ground is partition between Kurds in the North east, Alawi to the west and Sunni in the middle. Lebanon in the 80's on steroids.

Missing siyeseh 23 May 2013, 20:19

Agreed, these leaders are definitly not friends of syria.

Missing peace 23 May 2013, 20:52

syria has been israels best friend for decades... forgot that? never shooting a bullet to free the golan ... the best protector of israel s peace...