Western and Arab allies try to coordinate Syria rebel aid

June 22, 2013 15:30

DOHA - Western and Arab opponents of Bashar Assad met in Qatar on Saturday to tighten coordination of their stepped up support for rebels battling to overthrow the Syrian president.

Ministers from 11 countries including the United States, European and regional Sunni Muslim powers, held talks that Washington said should commit participants to direct all aid through the Western-backed Supreme Military Council, which it hopes can offset the growing power of jihadist rebel forces.

After a series of military offensives by Assad's troops, including the recapture of a strategic border town two weeks ago, US President Barack Obama said the United States would increase military support for the rebels.

Two Gulf sources told Reuters on Saturday that Saudi Arabia, which has taken a lead role among Arab opponents of Assad, had also accelerated delivery of advanced weapons to the rebels.

"In the past week there have been more arrivals of these advanced weapons. They are getting them more frequently," one source said, without giving details. Another Gulf source described them as "potentially balance-tipping" supplies.

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