Wednesday, December 11, 2013

U.S., Britain suspend aid to north Syria after Islamists seize weapons store

    Wednesday, December 11, 2013   No comments

Nusra fighters transporting weapons and munitions
The United States and Britain suspended non-lethal aid to northern Syria after Islamist fighters seized Western-backed rebel weapons warehouses, highlighting fears that supplies could end up in the wrong hands and the general chaos engulfing the nation.

The rebel Free Syrian Army fighting President Bashar al-Assad said the U.S. and British moves were rushed and mistaken. "We hope our friends will rethink and wait for a few days when things will be clearer," FSA spokesman Louay Meqdad said.

The suspension underlines a crisis for the FSA leadership which needs international backing to reinforce its credibility and to stop its fighters joining powerful al Qaeda-backed Islamist militants who now dominate the war with Assad.

The United States and Britain have in the past offered radios, body armor, medical supplies, money and food to rebels fighting Assad, but a U.S. embassy spokesman in Turkey declined to give details of what supplies may have been halted.

Fighters from the Islamic Front, which groups six major rebel brigades and which said last week it had quit the FSA, seized headquarters of the Syrian Military Council, nominally in charge of the FSA, and weapons warehouses at the Bab al-Hawa crossing on Syria's northwestern border with Turkey.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based anti-Assad monitoring group, said the Islamic Front had seized dozens of 'Shilka' anti-aircraft weapons and anti-tank rockets from the SMC arms stores in fighting on Friday and Saturday.

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