Riyadh paying Free Syrian Army salaries

June 22, 2012 at 5:23 PM

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, June 22 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabia is providing funds to the Free Syria Army to encourage mass defections from Bashar Assad's military, The Guardian reported Friday.

Saudi Arabia's financial support of the FSA complements Turkish efforts to supply weapons to Syrian rebels, the British newspaper said.

As many as 22 Syrian nationals are operating a command center in Istanbul, Turkey, to facilitate the flow of weapons to the Syrian opposition. Combined with the Saudi funds, the support is breathing new life into the rebels, whose efforts to bring down Assad looked near an end just six weeks ago, The Guardian said.

Rebels are also receiving a steady stream of ammunition and medical supplies from Turkey.

U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, Ind-Conn., has been at the forefront of the renewed push to help the rebels.

"Senator Lieberman has called for the U.S. to provide robust and comprehensive support to the armed Syrian opposition, in co-ordination with our partners in the Middle East and Europe," Lieberman's spokesman said. "He has specifically called for the U.S. to work with our partners to provide the armed Syrian opposition with weapons, training, tactical intelligence, secure communications and other forms of support to change the military balance of power inside Syria.

"Senator Lieberman also supports the idea of ensuring that the armed opposition fighters receive regular and sufficient pay, although he does not believe it is necessary for the United States to provide this funding itself directly."

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