US to ramp up assistance to Syrian opposition, Kerry says

Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday said President Obama plans to “ramp up efforts” to assist the opposition in Syria.  

“Yes, he’s going to ramp up efforts with allies in concert with the fundamental support group of both Arab communities and European communities who are committed to helping to stop the slaughter that is taking place in Syria,” Kerry said on “CBS This Morning.” 

Obama will address the plan in his commencement address at West Point on Wednesday afternoon, Kerry said. 

“In the days ahead, we will be working very closely with Congress to engage in additional assistance to the moderate opposition,” he said, reiterating that Obama has decided not to put boots on the ground. 

ADVERTISEMENT
Syria’s civil war, Kerry explained, has had a spillover effect in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq.

“It’s destabilizing the region and there’s an increase in the number of terrorists, even some who are plotting against Europe and the United States,” he said. 

Asked if Obama’s plan is a recognition that he should have done more in Syria earlier, Kerry said the president “has been consistently ramping up the effort in Syria.” 

There has been a transition, Kerry said, whereby the Syrian rebels have shifted their focus toward Bashar Assad’s regime and not terrorists within their country. A division among the Gulf States has also ended as far as which side to support in the conflict, Kerry added.

Kerry said Obama on Wednesday will lay out the U.S.’s foreign policy vision and goals and announce a $5 billion terrorism partnership fund to help train countries to fight radical extremism.

Obama’s decision to extend assistance to Syria comes after Republicans have slammed the administration for months for not having a clear-cut policy toward Syria and assisting the rebels.