As part of our steadfast commitment to empower the moderate Syrian opposition and bolster its efforts to assist those in need inside Syria, the United States is taking additional measures this week to support the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC), local communities inside Syria, and members of the moderate, armed opposition.
First, we are strengthening our ties with the Syrian opposition by determining that the SOC’s representative offices in the United States are foreign missions under the Foreign Missions Act. Second, we are working with the U.S. Congress to provide more than $27 million in new non-lethal assistance, bringing the total non-lethal support we have committed and are providing to the Syrian opposition to nearly $287 million. Third, we are stepping up deliveries of non-lethal assistance to commanders in the Free Syrian Army to enhance their logistical capabilities.
Determination of SOC Offices as Foreign Missions
The United States suspended the operations of the Syrian Embassy in the United States on March 18, 2014. The United States has now determined that the SOC’s representative offices in the United States are foreign missions under the Foreign Missions Act. Though this is not tantamount to recognition of the SOC as the Government of Syria, nor does it establish the SOC offices as the Embassy of Syria, it is a reflection of our partnership with the SOC as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and will facilitate their outreach to the Syrian diaspora in the United States.
New non-lethal assistance to the SOC
The additional $27 million in planned assistance expands existing initiatives that support the SOC and its Assistance Coordination Unit’s (ACU) priority campaigns inside Syria, including: 1) the Syria In Green initiative, which delivers urgently needed equipment and supplies like food baskets, generators, trucks, and school supplies; 2) search and rescue kits, civil defense materials, and communications equipment to support civil defense efforts in hard hit areas such as Aleppo City; 3) financial and technical assistance to strengthen Syrian independent media, including 13 radio and television outlets; and 4) governance trainings and communications equipment to more than 250 representatives of local councils inside Syria to enable coordination and bolster their capacity to deliver essential services.
Non-lethal Assistance for the Moderate, Armed Opposition
In addition to our support to the SOC, ACU, and local councils, we have increased deliveries of non-lethal assistance to commanders in the Free Syrian Army (FSA). In coordination with the Syrian Supreme Military Council (SMC), the United States is providing $80 million in non-lethal equipment, $5 million of which was delivered in April 2014 alone. Equipment provided includes cargo trucks, ambulances, construction vehicles, communications equipment, trailers, medical kits, food, blankets, and mattresses. Additional deliveries of food, vehicles, and medical equipment are planned over the next several weeks. The United States will continue to tailor its non-lethal deliveries to best enhance the FSA and SMC’s logistical capabilities.