U.S. secretly trains Syrian opposition fighters : report

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The United States, which pledged on Thursday to provide the Syrian opposition with food rations and medical supplies, is reportedly involved in a “covert program to train rebel fighters” in areas near Syria, according to the New York Times.

The report said that the American administration is considering giving Syrian opposition fighters gear, like body armor, but waits to see “if the rebels use the initial assistance appropriately before providing such equipment,” reported the newspaper on Friday.

On Thursday, the United States pledged $60 million in “non-lethal” assistance for the Syrian political opposition as well as the first direct U.S. aid to opposition fighters in the form of food and medical assistance.

“The U.S. will be providing an additional $60 million in non-lethal assistance to support the efforts of the Syrian opposition coalition over the coming months,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said after talks between the 11-nation ‘Friends of Syria’ and the opposition in Rome.

“We will be sending medical supplies and food to the (rebel) Supreme Military Council, so there will be direct assistance,” he added.

“All Syrians... must know that they can have a future,” Kerry said.

The European Union, meanwhile, said it amended sanctions on Syria to permit the supply of armored vehicles, non-lethal military equipment and technical aid to the Syrian opposition, provided they were intended to protect civilians.

The United States and European countries have been reluctant to provide militarily aid to the opposition on the ground, fearing to be dragged into war in the Middle East.