Syria Rebels Want 'Effective' Arms After U.S. Statement

by
Reuters
Syrian rebel and political opposition leaders called on Friday for anti-aircraft and other sophisticated weapons after the United States said it would boost military support to President Bashar al-Assad's foes.

photo of a Free Syrian Army fighter wounded by a hand grenade taking cover inside a Syrian Army base during heavy fighting in the Arabeen   neighbourhood of Damascus

Syrian rebel and political opposition leaders called on Friday for anti-aircraft and other sophisticated weapons after the United States said it would boost military support to President Bashar al-Assad's foes.

"(They) need to provide effective military assistance to take the necessary steps to prevent the criminal regime from using chemical weapons," Brigadier-General Selim Idris, a rebel commander, told Al-Arabiya Television.

He said rebels, on the defensive in many parts of the country after weeks of counter-attacks by Assad's forces, needed "large quantities of weapons and ammunition, anti-aircraft (weapons) and sophisticated weapons."

He was responding to a statement by U.S. deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes that the United States would increase military support to Idris' Supreme Military Council after determining that Assad's government had used chemical weapons.

Rhodes did not specify what support was planned, but said it would be different in scope and scale from the non-lethal assistance that Washington says it currently provides.

George Sabra, acting leader of the National Coalition political opposition bloc, echoed Idris' call for significant weapons supplies and said the United States was taking a belated step after two years of conflict in which more than 90,000 people have been killed.

"We want anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons," he told Al-Arabiya, adding that the coalition also wanted to see the Friends of Syria group of anti-Assad countries take a "radical position after the truth has been revealed about the regime's use of chemical weapons."

"We expect to see positive results and genuine military support," he said.