Syria: US clears way for Americans to start donating money to rebels
The US government has quietly cleared the way for Americans to start donating money to buy weapons for Syria's rebels, even as the White House continues to refuse to arm the forces opposed to Bashar al-Assad.
The Syrian Support Group (SSG), a Washington-based organisation with close links to the opposition, has been granted a license by the US Treasury to begin fund-raising on behalf the rebels.
|The Syrian Support Group (SSG), a Washington-based organisation with close links to the opposition, has been granted a license by the US Treasury to begin fund-raising on behalf the rebels. |
Supporters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) hailed the move as a "game-changer" in the effort to equip the rebellion with modern weapons capable of matching those of the regime's forces.
Meanwhile, as Mr Assad's troops continued their attack on the strategic city of Aleppo, William Hague described the situation in Syria as "bleak" and conceded there was now little chance of a peaceful resolution to the 17-month crisis.
The Treasury license, seen by The Daily Telegraph, allows the SSG to supply the rebels with "financial, communications, logistical and other services otherwise prohibited" by American sanctions on Syria, although it does not permit the group to directly purchase weapons.
"This is a game-changer in terms of funding and a sign of a gradual policy shift by the US government," said Brian Sayers, the SSG'S Director of Government Relations. "We are optimistic that it will help change the situation on the battlefield in a positive way for the FSA."
By allowing American dollars to flow to the secular FSA, the US may also be trying to counterbalance Islamist elements within the opposition, who are building large-scale fund-raising operations in Qatar and other Sunni Arab nations. Some secular rebels complain that by refusing to provide arms and money, the US has ceded influence to the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist organisation.
Posted by: lotp