The United States has suspended all non-lethal assistance into northern Syria after equipment and supplies for the Syrian opposition were taken away by Islamic Front rebels.
According to media reports in the area, Fighters from the Islamic Front took control of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) bases at the Bab al-Hawa crossing on Syria’s northwestern border with Turkey late on Friday. The threat posed by this has prompted the US to suspend all further deliveries of non-lethal assistance into northern Syria
The FSA is a union of six major rebel groups.
Infighting between rebels weakens Syrian opposition
It was pointed out by US Secretary of State John Kerry in an interview with Martha Raddatz of the ABC, that what happened in northern Syria where the bases of opposition are located is due a certain amount of infighting taking place within the opposition.
Secretary Kerry said this is the nature of the beast that has been unleashed by Bashar al-Assad who is feeding some of it himself because he likes to try to play the part that he is the better alternative to these extremists.
“So there are some indicators that he’s even fueling some of that.” – Secretary Kerry
The infighting among Syrian rebels has weakened their efforts to bring down President Bashar al-Assad in the conflict which began as peaceful protests against his rule in March 2011 and has since descended into civil war.
$60M of nonlethal assistance to the Syrian opposition
In March this year, believing that the Syrian Opposition Coalition could not successfully lead the way to a peaceful transition alone, the United States of America pledged $60M of nonlethal assistance to the Syrian opposition.
At that time, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the United States of America would provide an additional $60 million in nonlethal assistance to support the coalition in its operational needs day to day as it continued to organize and work for the political transition.
The funding was to allow the opposition to reach out and help the local councils to be able to rebuild in their liberated areas of Syria so that they could provide basic services to people, who lack access to medical care, to food, to sanitation.
In addition, the funding would help those who work within them, those without blood on their hands, to be able to continue to do their important humanitarian work.
The support that President Obama ordered was on top of more than 50 million that the US provided to help the Syrian activists organize opposition efforts across the country to be able to communicate with each other and to broadcast a message of hope across their country.
US Responds to the needs of the Syrian people
In November 2012, the United States of America provided $30 million in additional humanitarian assistance to respond to the needs of Syrian people affected by the turmoil. It included provision of food aid to families in need.
In neighboring countries, the additional assistance from the United States was to provide food supplies, hot meals, and food vouchers for families who fled the violence in Syria.
The additional assistance was provided through the World Food Program (WFP), which is providing food aid to more than 1.5 million people in Syria and the refugees who fled to neighboring countries.
The United States is the largest donor of food aid for those affected by the conflict in Syria through WFP.
In August 2012, with the violence engulfing Syria, the United States of America announced an additional $12 million in humanitarian assistance, bringing the total amount of U.S. emergency aid to more than $76 million at that time.
The U.S. government says it continues to place emphasis on ending the escalating violence which has uprooted hundreds of thousands of Syrians.
The humanitarian needs continue to grow. Not only are Syrians internally displaced, but also displaced to neighboring countries.
The UN estimates that there are over 2 million Syrians inside Syria in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.