US to back Syrian Opposition

The United States is preparing to provide direct humanitarian and communications assistance to the Syrian opposition in a move that would be a serious step towards the U.S. plan to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Asad.

“These moves are going to invest the U.S. in a much deeper sense with the opposition,” Foreign Policy quoted an unknown official in President Barack Obama’s administration as saying. “U.S. policy is now aligned with enabling the opposition to overthrow the Assad regime. This codifies a significant change in our Syria policy.”

The official told Foreign Policy journal on Wednesday that more serious options, including the introduction of a no-fly zone in Syria or close cooperation with the opposition Free Syrian Army, were not on the agenda so far. It echoes Obama’s statement yesterday, in which he said military action against Assad’s regime would be a “mistake.”

The U.S.-backed Syrian rebel assistance plan, which involves the State Department and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will, however, fail if government troops don’t grant access to affected areas, the U.S. official told Foreign Policy.

Last week the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was denied access to the besieged city of Homs, which has seen heavy shelling by Assad’s forces.

Syria has been the scene of continuous anti-government protests for nearly a year. According to the United Nations, more than 7,500 people have died in the unrest, which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad blames on “armed terrorist gangs.”