US to provide $70 million to militants in Syria: State Department

PressTV – The US State Department has announced that Washington would provide about $70 million in additional “non-lethal” aid to groups fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In a statement on Friday, the State Department said the Obama administration is working with Congress over the assistance.

According to the State Department, the new aid would bring total US support to the anti-government groups to about $400 million.

The announcement came one day after the United States called on the Syrian president to step down and accused his government of being authoritarian and brutal against the Syrian people.

“For four years the Assad regime has answered Syrians’ calls for freedom and reform with unrelenting brutality, authoritarianism and destruction,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Thursday.

The United States and its regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.

The United Nations said more than 200,000 people have been killed and millions displaced due to the turmoil that has gripped Syria for nearly four years.

A political activist told Press TV that the US and Europe “underestimated” the solid power base of President Assad within the Arab country.

President Assad “has no intention of stepping down and he has a very solid base of power in the country,” said Jennifer Loewenstein, who is the Associate director of the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

“But the Americans and other Western powers underestimated his strength… and the alliance of those people associated with his government,” Loewenstein said on Friday.

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