US and UK suspend Syria rebel aid

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AFP

A rebel fighter aims his weapon as he stands amidst snow during clashes with Syrian pro-government forces in the Salaheddin neighbourhood of Syria's northern city of Aleppo. Picture: MEDO HALAB

Britain and the US have suspended millions of pounds of aid to the Syrian opposition over fears supplies may have ended up with Islamic rebels linked to al-Qaeda.

They acted after forces from the new Islamic Front alliance seized headquarters and warehouses belonging to the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, which is plotting to overthrow dictator President Bashar al-Assad.

Last week fighters from the Islamic Front, a union of several major rebel groups, took control of the bases at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey.

The UK is providing more than £20 million in non-lethal support, including 4x4 vehicles, body armour, generators, communications equipment, water purification kits and protection against chemical weapons. Another £152 million comes from the US.

The suspension affects only “non-lethal” help and is not expected to affect humanitarian aid.

The Free Syrian Army said the US and British moves were rushed and mistaken. “We hope our friends will rethink and wait for a few days when things will be clearer,” said spokesman Louay Meqdad. - Daily Mail


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