London extends hand to Syrian opposition

Jan. 23, 2014 at 10:03 AM
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LONDON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Thursday his government was backing civil defense programs for emerging opposition governments in Syria.

Hague told members of the British Parliament plans were under way to extend a pilot project to train and equip civil defense teams in northern Syria.

"As a part of this work, the U.K. is supporting emerging moderate local governance structures in opposition-held areas to improve the delivery of services to local communities," he said in a written statement.

Hague said the "gift" consists of enough equipment for nine teams of 25, who would receive protective gear and other tools to aid their response to attacks in their communities.

The overall value of the program is approximately $1.15 million. Hague said the effort underlines his country's "support to the moderate opposition" in Syria.

Representatives from the Syrian government, opposition leaders and members of the international community met this week in Switzerland to discuss prospects for a post-war Syria. Russian leaders expressed support for a future role for Syrian President Bashar Assad, drawing strong criticism from the United States.

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