CIA begins delivering weapons to Syrian rebels: Report
Washington: The CIA has begun delivering weapons to Syrian rebels as part of US plan to strengthen the opposition armed groups against Assad regime, even as Obama Administration began talks with Russia to find a diplomatic solution to the current crisis, a media report said on Wednesday.
The shipments began streaming into the country over the past two weeks, along with separate deliveries by the State Department of vehicles and other gear ? a flow of material that marks a major escalation of the US role in Syria`s civil war, The Washington Post reported.
The arms shipments are limited to light weapons and other munitions that can be tracked, it said adding the US is also shipping new types of nonlethal gear to rebels.
That aid includes vehicles, sophisticated communications equipment and advanced combat medical kits, the daily newspaper reported.
By doing so, US officials hope that this would tilt the balance in favour of the Syrian rebels who are fighting against the Assad regime for more than two years now.
"That is something we are not going to dispute but we are not going to publicly speak to it," a US official told the CNN, according to which the weapons are not American-made but are funded and organised by the CIA.
The report of a long-awaited military aid comes one day after the US President Barack Obama told Americans in a nationally broadcast address that he was deferring taking military action in Syria in order to study a Russian initiative which would see Damascus relinquish its chemical weapons.
Earlier, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the US has stepped up its assistance to the Syrian rebels.
"I say that this administration, the United States supports the Syrian opposition and has provided stepped-up support to the Syrian opposition, and will continue to do that," he said in response to a question.
"But we have been explicit that the military response contemplated had to do with Assad`s use of chemical weapons. It was never envisioned as a means by which the United States would engage directly, militarily in the Syrian civil war.
Khaled Saleh, a spokesman for the Syrian Opposition Coalition, welcomed the increased military assistance from the US, but noted that these are insufficient to turn the tide of the civil war between rebels and forces loyal to Assad.
"The Syrian Military Council is receiving so little support that any support we receive is a relief. But if you compare what we are getting compared to the assistance Assad receives from Iran and Russia, we have a long battle ahead of us," he told The Washington Post.
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