World powers supporting Syria’s rebels decided on Saturday to take “secret steps” to change the balance on the battlefield.

Even as they prepared to step up involvement in the war , they demanded that Iran and Lebanese Shia movement Hizbollah stop supporting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

In their final communiqué, they agreed to “provide urgently all the necessary materiel and equipment to the opposition on the ground, each country in its own way in order to enable them to counter brutal attacks by the regime and its allies and protect the Syrian people”. Top Qatari diplomat Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani said the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the “Friends of Syria” had taken “secret decisions about practical measures to change the situation on the ground in Syria”.

Ministers from Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States attended the talks.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. remained committed to a peace plan that includes a conference in Geneva and a transitional government picked both by Mr. Assad and the opposition.

In their communiqué, the ministers agreed that all military aid provided would be channelled through the FSA’s Supreme Military Council.

The ministers warned of the “increasing presence and growing radicalism” in Syria. Mr. Sheikh Hamad voiced support for a peace conference but insisted there could be no role in the future government for “Assad and aides with bloodstained hands”.

The final communiqué stated that Mr. Assad “has no role in the transitional governing body or thereafter”.

On the ground, loyalist forces pressed a fierce four-day assault on rebel-held parts of Damascus, while insurgents launched a new attack on regime-controlled neighbourhoods of second city Aleppo. — AFP