Syrian militant leaders have visited the White House and left with the promise of millions of dollars in non-lethal aid and fresh sanctions against supporters of the Syrian government. The US State Department announced on Thursday it is sanctioning six Syrian officials and Russia’s Tempbank, a Moscow-based bank that has provided millions of dollars in cash and has helped facilitate financial services to the Syrian government, AP reported.
The US also pledged $27 million in new non-lethal aid to the head of the so-called Syrian National Council, Ahmad al-Jarba. Jarba has repeatedly asked the US for heavy weaponry, such as anti-armor rockets, to combat the Syrian Army. But the Obama administration has resisted for fear that the arms could fall into the hands of extremist groups who are also fighting the military.
“We’ve had difficult moments in this journey,” Secretary of State John Kerry said at the start of a meeting with Jarba at the State Department.
“But we are committed to do our part to support the moderate opposition in its efforts to provide a legitimate voice to the aspirations and hopes of the Syrian people.”
If approved by Congress, the aid would help provide equipment such as generators, radios, trucks, and search and rescue kits to rebel fighters or nongovernment organizations that oppose President Bashar al-Assad.
More than 150,000 people have been killed in clashes between terrorist groups and forces loyal to Assad, with millions of others displaced by the war.