US offers extra $500M in aid to Syrian victims

The United States will provide an additional $500 million in humanitarian aid to people affected by the Syrian Civil War, Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryChimamanda Ngozi Adichie becomes first African to deliver Yale graduation speech Dem Sen. Markey faces potential primary challenge in Massachusetts Judd Gregg: The dangers of the Bolton Doctrine MORE announced Friday.

Since the conflict erupted in early 2011, the U.S. has provided more than $2.9 billion in humanitarian assistance, including the new funding.

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The additional funding is the largest American aid package for Syria and the U.S. remains the single largest donor, the State Department said.

“Even with additional assistance from the United States, the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis remains significantly underfunded,” the department said, adding that the U.S. hopes other countries will donate more money ahead of the United Nations General Assembly.

Of the $500 million in new aid, more than $240 million is meant to help people affected by the war inside Syria, including Palestinians. The remaining amount will provide aid for medical care, food and shelter, among other things, and for refugees in neighboring countries.  

The additional aid comes with President Obama opening the door to airstrikes in Syria to target members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The al Qaeda offshoot is one of many groups fighting to overthrow strongman Bashar Assad.

Separately, the White House has asked Congress to authorize the use of $500 million to aid the moderate opposition in Syria to combat ISIS. 

Lawmakers are weighing whether to provide that authorization in the short-term government spending bill unveiled this week. House Republicans have suggested a vote on the bill could be held as early as next Tuesday.