US halts aid to Syrian rebels

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The White House confirmed Wednesday that the United States has halted aid shipments to rebel groups in Syria.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the administration was “obviously concerned” by reports that the Islamic Front seized headquarters and warehouses belonging to the Supreme Military Council, the rebel organization recognized by the U.S. government.

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“As a result of this situation … the United States has suspended all further deliveries of nonlethal assistance into northern Syria,” Earnest said. 

“At the same time, it's important for people to understand that our humanitarian assistance, which is distributed through international and nongovernmental organizations, including the United Nations, is not affected by this suspension.”

The Islamic Front is a new confederation of rebel groups that has called for replacing the Assad regime with an Islamic state dictated by Sharia law. The group is seen as more extreme that the Supreme Military Council.

Earnest said aligning with more moderate rebels had been a “focal point” of U.S. efforts, particularly when it comes to nonlethal aid.

“A significant portion of our policy towards Syria has been dedicated to providing support to those elements of the opposition that are moderate, that are committed to respecting basic human rights, that are committed to respecting the rights of religious and ethnic minorities and even political -- the political minorities in that country,” Earnest said.

The aid suspension also comes after two senior commanders with the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army were kidnapped and executed by a separate band of al Qaeda fighters.