US pledges $290M in humanitarian aid to Syrian victims

 

Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday announced $290 million in humanitarian assistance to those affected by Syria's civil war, bringing the total U.S. commitment to more than $2 billion. 

“I am pleased to announce on behalf of the American people and on behalf of President Obama another $290 million in humanitarian assistance for those affected by the conflict, both inside Syria and the communities throughout the region where they have taken refuge,” Kerry said after a meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam in Beirut. 

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Kerry’s visit to Beirut was suddenly announced Wednesday morning as a detour to his trip in Europe.

A large portion of the new assistance, $51 million, will go directly to refugees in Lebanon, who have spilled over from Syria, Kerry said.

He warned the funds, however, may not be enough to tip the balance in Syria’s civil war, which has raged on since early 2011.

“There is still an enormous need on the ground that is not being met, and I’m not going to stand up here and pretend that the two billion or the money we’re giving today is enough,” Kerry said. 

Nations supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime should engage in the effort to bring the war to an end, he added, naming Russia and terrorist group Hezbollah, based in Lebanon. 

Kerry said Syria’s “so-called elections” on Tuesday were “non-elections” and “meaningless,” accusing Assad of conducting a sham. 

Assad is expected to win another term and the results will be announced in the coming days.

The new humanitarian assistance comes after Kerry said a week ago the Obama administration plans to “ramp up” assistance to the Syrian opposition.

The humanitarian aid appears to be different, however. Kerry said the administration plans to work with Congress on assistance to support the Syrian rebels. 

Kerry is scheduled to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Paris on Thursday, and will attend the D-Day commemoration ceremony in Normandy on Friday.