Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

U.S. Will Increase Aid for Displaced Syrians

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

U.S. Will Increase Aid for Displaced Syrians

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is providing an additional $100 million for humanitarian aid for displaced Syrians, officials said Wednesday, bringing to $510 million the total U.S. aid commitment since the civil war began more than two years ago.

Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to announce the new aid today during a visit to Rome, officials said. It will help support civilians in Syria, as well as more than 1.4 million refugees who have fled the country, they said. Officials requested anonymity because the aid had not been formally announced.

The decision is not tied to White House deliberations over whether the United States should provide arms and ammunition to rebels fighting the government of President Bashar Assad or to growing suspicion that Syrian forces used chemical weapons.

The administration provides some nonlethal aid to the rebels, such as communications equipment, military-style rations and bandages. But U.S. officials worry that arming the insurgents could wind up strengthening extremist militias, including factions linked to al-Qaida.

Providing additional aid will help the Obama administration deflect criticism that it is not doing enough to deal with the conflict, which has killed more than 70,000 Syrians and threatens to engulf the broader Mideast region. …

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