US's Kerry meets with Syrian opposition chief

Meeting follows Washington’s announcement that it will sanction six Syrian officials and a Russian bank for their support of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

US's Kerry meets with Syrian opposition chief

World Bulletin / News Desk

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his commitment to the moderate Syrian opposition on Thursday as Washington announced a new wave of sanctions on the Syrian government and its supporters.

Ahmad Jarba, the Syrian Opposition Coalition President, is leading a delegation to Washington this week to meet with leading U.S. officials from the U.S. Congress, State Department and the National Security Council.

“We've had difficult moments in this journey, but we are committed to do our part to support the moderate opposition in its efforts to provide a legitimate voice to the aspirations and hopes of the Syrian people,” said Kerry prior to meeting with Jarba at the State Department.

For his part, Jarba thanked Kerry for the U.S.’s support, saying that the Syrian people are “looking to the superpower and country that plays a leading role in the world.”

Washington further tightened the economic spigot on the Syria government on Thursday, as it announced sanctions on six senior Syrian officials, and a Russian bank, for their support of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

The six individuals are Bassam al Hassan, a commander in the Syrian Republican Guard and Assad’s strategic advisor, Hussein Arnous, the Syrian Minister of Public Works, Ahmad al Qadri, the Minister of Agriculture, Ismael Ismael, the Minister of Finance, Kinda al Shammat, the Minister of Social Affairs, and Hassan Hijazi, the Minister of Labor.

“Today’s designation builds on Treasury’s ongoing efforts to apply economic pressure on the Syrian Government by choking off access to the international financial system,” said David S. Cohen, the Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in a statement released by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Tempbank, the designated bank, supplied the Syrian government with millions of dollars and facilitated the Syrian government’s financial transactions, according to the Treasury Department.

The economic move follows Washington’s recognition of the Syrian Opposition Coalition’s offices in Washington and New York as foreign missions on Monday, and its announcement that it would provide the group with a further $27 million in nonlethal assistance.

The U.S. has so far been reticent to provide the opposition with lethal aid, a key request of the Syrian opposition, fearing that the weapons could fall into the wrong hands.

Jarba requested that the U.S. supply his allies with lethal aid during a public speech on Tuesday.

“We do have a problem with the air forces, the air raids and the barrel bombs,” he said. “This is making our life a nightmare, so we want weapons that will be able to neutralize the air force.”

Jarba made the case for lethal assistance during his meeting with Kerry, according to Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman. She further said that negotiations are ongoing on the matter.

During the meeting, the two leaders also discussed a variety of issues including “empowering the moderate political and armed opposition, curbing the rise of extremism, completing the work of removing chemical weapons, and easing humanitarian suffering,” according to a readout of the meeting provided by Psaki. 

Last Mod: 09 Mayıs 2014, 09:59
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