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Reports: U.S. Eyeing 'Direct' Aid To Syrian Rebels, Though Not Weapons

Posted: February 27, 2013

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During the nearly two-year-old battle that has cost tens of thousands of lives, the U.S. has not given direct assistance to those who oppose President Bashar Assad's regime. Now, news outlets say, the U.S. may send body armor, vehicles and other such goods.

Rebel fighters in Aleppo, Syria, in January.

Rebel fighters in Aleppo, Syria, in January. Thomas Rassloff

"The Obama administration is moving toward a major policy shift on Syria that could provide rebels there with equipment such as body armor and armored vehicles, and possibly military training, and could send humanitarian assistance directly to Syria's opposition political coalition," The Washington Post reports. It cites as its sources "U.S. and European officials."

The Post adds that "U.S. officials remain opposed to providing weapons to the rebels," who for two years have been trying to topple the regime of President Bashar Assad.

CBS News says it has been told by sources familiar with the discussions that the aid being discussed includes "a range of options, from training on chemical weapons security to giving equipment that includes combat armor." The network says that "the specifics have not yet been decided and the U.S. State Department is not commenting" and notes that "Secretary of State John Kerry is in Paris Wednesday and is consulting with European partners on the type of support to offer the Syrian opposition leaders when they meet Thursday in Rome."

As GlobalPost notes, "throughout the two-year conflict" in Syria that has cost tens of thousands of lives, "Washington has not provided either side with direct aid or military assistance."

Meanwhile, on Morning Edition today, NPR's Deborah Amos looked at how:

"Syrian Rebels, Secular And Islamist, Both Claim The Future."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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