Syrian rebels get arms from Gulf states

May 16, 2012 at 1:38 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 16 (UPI) -- The United States has been providing guidance for Persian Gulf states buying arms for Syrian rebels, U.S. officials say.

The Obama administration appears to be giving up on a political settlement between the opposition and the regime of President Bashar Assad, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. While officials say the United States is not directly providing weaponry for the rebels, the administration is working with those who are.

"We are increasing our non-lethal assistance to the Syrian opposition, and we continue to coordinate our efforts with friends and allies in the region and beyond in order to have the biggest impact on what we are collectively doing," a senior State Department official said.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other oil-rich states in the Gulf are providing millions of dollars for arms, while the Muslim Brotherhood says it has its own independent financial backers, officials said. Most of the weapons have been bought on the black market.

Rebels killed 23 Syrian soldiers Monday in an attack on an Army base, suggesting the aid is having an effect on the military situation, the newspaper said.

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