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Obama approves arms for rebels

The US will supply direct military aid to the Syrian opposition for the first time, the White House announced on Friday. President Barack Obama made the decision after his administration concluded that Syrian forces under Bashar al-Assad were using chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin gas, against rebels in the ongoing civil war, reported BBC citing White House spokesperson Ben Rhodes.

On Thursday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay announced that the number of documented deaths resulting from the conflict in Syria between March 2011 and the end of April 2013 has reached 92,901. The spokesperson, however, did not give details about the military aid other than saying it would be ‘different in scope and scale to what we have provided before’.


clinton speaks out

Washington: Among those whose comments put pressure on Obama to act was one of his predecessors, Bill Clinton. ‘The only question is: now that the Russians, the Iranians and Hezbollah are in there head over heels ... should we try to do something to try to slow their gains and rebalance the power so that these rebel groups have a decent chance to prevail,’ the former president was quoted by newspaper Politico as saying.

Assad’s government says its next move will be to recapture Aleppo in the north, Syria’s biggest city and commercial hub, which has been divided since last year when advancing rebels seized most of the countryside around it.

Syrian state media have been touting plans for ‘Northern Storm,’ a looming campaign to recapture the rebel-held north.

Meanwhile, UN said it was concerned about the fate of residents if a new offensive is launched. ‘All of the reports I’m receiving are of augmentation of resources and forces (for an Aleppo offensive) on the part of the government,’ UN Human Rights commissioner Navi Pillay told a news agency.


Britain agrees with US


London: Britain on Friday agreed with the US assessment of chemical weapons being used in Syria. British foreign secretary William Hague said he agreed with the US assessment that chemical weapons had been used in Syria. The White House Thursday publicly accused the Bashar al-Assad regime, for the first time, of using chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin gas, against rebels in the ongoing civil war.


Rebels want more

BEIRUT: Syrian rebels immidiately called for more sophisticated weaponry. ‘We want anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons,’ George Sabra, acting leader of the national coalition political opposition bloc, told Al-Arabiya television.
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