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US offers $70 mn new aid to Syrian opposition

Washington: The US announced on Friday that it will provide nearly $70 million in new non-lethal assistance to the Syrian opposition, as the conflict in Syria entered its fifth year.

With the additional funding, the US would have committed nearly $400 million in assistance that supported the Syrian opposition since the start of the conflict, US deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken said, according to a Xinhua report.

This new assistance includes nearly $30 million to enable the opposition and local governance structures inside Syria, as well as for supporting civil defence workers, who play a critical role in emergency response in Syria, said a statement issued by the US state department on Friday.

It also includes $25 million in non-lethal support to vetted units of the armed opposition, said the statement, adding that the aid would help enhance the opposition’s “operational capabilities as they seek to protect their communities”.

The US has started training and equipping thousands of moderate Syrian rebel forces as part of an effort to fight Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria.

According to the UN, over 220,000 Syrians have been killed since the start of the conflict.

Almost half of the country’s people have been forced to flee their homes. More than 4 million people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, while a further 7.6 million are displaced within Syria.