The Syrian opposition was to meet in Istanbul with representatives of Western and Arab countries to assess the rebels’ military needs as the US weighs its options on military support.
Louay Mokdad of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) said on Saturday, “Military chief General Selim Idriss will discuss with the various representatives the needs of the rebels and give an assessment of the military situation inside Syria.” U.S. President Barack Obama will use next week’s G8 summit to explain his new support for arming Syrian rebels, while lobbying Russia to help press Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside, the White House said on Friday.
The United States on Thursday reversed its long-standing Syria policy limiting aid to non-lethal assistance, and said it would begin sending military support to moderates among the rebels, after accusing Damascus of having used chemical weapons.
Syria and its ally, Russia, reacted negatively to both the accusation of chemical weapons use and to the plan to send military aid.
“There will several meetings today between the Syrian Military Council (SMC) and different representatives whom I can tell you are from Western and brotherly Arab countries, to understand the needs of the SMC and how to meet those needs”, Mr. Mokdad said.
“We already have weapons that we need ammunition for ... and also we will discuss areas where it is needed to have a no-fly zone”, he added.
At least 93,000 people have died in the Syrian war, according to the latest UN estimate. The fatality figure could be far higher, as 38,000 unverified deaths were not included in the estimate.