Rice meets Syrian opposition at White House

A man stands amidst debris as he inspects collapsed buildings at a site hit by what activists said were barrel bombs dropped by forces of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Aleppo's al-Sakhour district, September 27, 2014. (Reuters)

National Security Advisory Susan Rice reaffirmed U.S. commitment to supporting Syria’s moderate opposition at a meeting in Washington with a delegation from the Syrian National Coalition, the White House said Saturday.

The Friday meeting came as the United States and coalition partners broaden air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group in Syria, with a defense official telling AFP that “near continuous” combat sorties were being conducted there, as in Iraq.

Rice emphasized that U.S.-led air strikes in Syria “are targeted at ISIL,” and discussed ways to “support the moderate opposition to advance our mutual goals of countering ISIL and strengthening the prospects for a political transition,” the statement said, using an alternate acronym for the ISIS group.

In addition to the air campaign, Washington is planning to train and arm 5,000 Syrian rebels to fight the ISIS organization.

Top U.S. military officer General Martin Dempsey, however, has said between 12,000 and 15,000 men would be required to recapture “lost territory” in eastern Syria.

Washington has been keen not to let President Bashar al-Assad’s forces take the upper hand by exploiting the anti-ISIS air campaign.

Rice “reiterated that President Assad had lost all legitimacy” as she met with the delegation, led by SOC President Hadi al-Bahra, and emphasized the U.S. commitment to a negotiated settlement “that ensures a genuine and broadly inclusive political transition.”

The US and Arab allies launched air strikes against ISIS in northern and eastern Syria on Tuesday, more than a month after Washington began its air war on the jihadists in Iraq.

The Syrian National Coalition is the main exiled opposition group seeking the overthrow of Assad, amid the more than three-year-old civil war.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43