12/13/2013, 00.00
SYRIA

Syria: U.S. and Britain call a halt to equipping rebels

Washington and London stop sending non-lethal weapons to Syrian rebels for fear of supporting jihadist groups. They will continue to send humanitarian aid. First rumors about the participants in Geneva II: Iran and Saudi Arabia included . The Gulf Cooperation Council ( GCC ) condemns Assad, but also the presence of foreign forces in Syria.

Damascus ( AsiaNews) - The United States and Britain have suspended the sending of non-lethal weapons - equipment , armored vehicles, materials for communications - to Syrian rebels , but will continue to send humanitarian aid. London and Washington have decided to sever ties with the rebels because of the continued growth of jihadi groups which in a few months have supplanted the troops of the Free Syrian Army, now the only non-confessional opposition group.

Last week, the fighters of the Islamic Front, a coalition that represents the seven major jihadist movements on Syrian territory expelled FSA formations from their Bab al-Hawa rebel stronghold on the Turkish border . Yesterday, Josh Earnest, White House spokesman confirmed that after the events of Bab al-Hawa the United States "have suspended the delivery of materials and non-lethal means of assistance for the rebels stationed in the north of Syria." London also is concerned about the extremist drift of opposition to Bashar al- Assad. Hugh Robertson, the British under - secretary of state , told the BBC that although " for the time being no equipment has fallen into the hands of Islamic militants , it is reasonable to suspend supplies as long as there are questions about what is happening " in the ranks of the rebellion.

So far the U.S. government has sent equipment to the rebels to the tune of 181 million Euro , while Britain about 24 million Euro. The so-called non-lethal weapons consist of equipment designed to improve the efficiency of the guerrillas, including 4X4 vehicles , armor , generators, water purification kits, medicines, and gas masks .

In view of the Peace Conference in Geneva January 22 to 24, 2014, Gulf nations, Iran , Europe and the United States have begun to define their positions aimed at finding a solution to the Syrian conflict, which over three years has cost more than 120 thousand dead and millions of displaced . According to sources close to the organizers of the event at least 32 countries will be present in Geneva . In addition to the five permanent members of the Security Council (United States, Britain , France, Russia and China) , delegates from Iran and Saudi Arabia will also participate in the Conference on opposing sides , the first supporting the regime of Bashar al Assad , the second supporting and funding opposition groups . Each delegation will be composed of nine members and also the opposition and the regime will have to submit their lists. The deadline for participation expires on 27 December, but there may be some extensions to enable as many countries as possible to participate. During a visit to Tehran, Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister stressed the importance of the peace conference by stating that "all responsible countries must do something to achieve a positive result". "Those who are against it - he added - show a lack of commitment to meet the demands of the international community."

The preparation of Geneva II and the partial rehabilitation of Iran led by Hassan Rouhani is putting a strain on the cohesion of the Gulf States . On 10 December, the Council of Cooperation of the six monarchies of the Gulf (GCC ) met in Kuwait without the representatives from Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia who are at odds over the future confederation of monarchies wanted by the Saudis, but also because of divergent positions towards the historic enemy Iran. The meeting monarchs have called for the withdrawal of all "foreign forces from Syria," in reference to the fighters of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah and the Iranian military advisers who support the army, loyal to President Bashar al- Assad. The leaders also condemned the ongoing genocide against the Syrian people carried out by the regime of Bashar al - Assad.

 

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