Washington Post on June 22, 2013, published an AP report on the U.S. and its Arab and European allies agreeing to do more to help the embattled rebels trying to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said. Excerpts below:
…Kerry said the assistance would help change the balance on the battlefield of the civil war where regime forces have scored recent victories.
At a meeting of nearly a dozen of his counterparts, Kerry blamed Assad for the deteriorating situation in Syria where more than 93,000 people have died in a two-year civil war. He denounced Assad for inviting Iranian and Hezbollah fighters to battle alongside his troops and said the Syrian president risked turning the war into a regional sectarian conflict.
Kerry met with his counterparts in the Qatari capital on the first stop of a seven-nation trip through the Mideast and Asia where he is tackling difficult foreign policy issues…
Kerry has been pressing hard on Russia to back an international conference intended to end the bloodshed in Syria and allow a transitional government to move the country beyond civil war.
Russia has been the key ally of Assad’s regime throughout the two-year conflict.
Top U.S. diplomats are ready to go to Geneva to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other officials in coming days to advance the political process, Kerry said.
Kerry, a long-time proponent of more aggressive action in Syria, believes the international community must urgently try to stop the civil war in Syria.
It was Kerry’s first meeting with his counterparts about aid to the Syrian rebels since President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would send lethal aid to the opposition. That decision was partly based on a U.S. intelligence assessment that Assad had used chemical weapons, but Kerry expressed deeper concern about Iran and Hezbollah fighters.
“That is a very, very dangerous development,” Kerry said. “Hezbollah is a proxy for Iran. … Hezbollah in addition to that is a terrorist organization.”
Kerry blamed Hezbollah and Assad with thwarting efforts to diffuse sectarian rebels and to negotiate a settlement.
“We’re looking at a very dangerous situation,” that had transformed “into a much more volatile, potentially explosive situation that could involve the entire region,” Kerry said.