Istanbul: The opposition fighters in Syria should keep themselves at bay from the extremists so the two do not mix up with each other. This was said by the German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, on Saturday in the Turkish capital, Istanbul.
He advised that the Syrian opposition must distance itself from extremist forces. He also said that Germany is skeptical about supplying weapons to the Syrian opposition fighters.
“We expect from the opposition that they clearly distance themselves in Syria from terrorist and extremist forces,”Westerwelle told reporters in Istanbul at a meeting of Syrian opposition leaders and their international backers.
“We are skeptical as the German government when it comes to delivering weapons because we are concerned that weapons could fall into the wrong, namely extremist, hands, but it is a matter that must now be discussed in the European Union,” he added.
A US official said on Friday that Washington has planned to provide about $100 million in new non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition that could include for the first time battlefield support equipment such as body armor and night-vision goggles.
Secretary of State, John Kerry, was expected to announce the new aid package, which would mark a recalibration of US policy toward Syrian opposition groups at Saturday’s meeting. Fresh US humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees is also likely.
The new assistance would stop short of supplying weapons to opposition fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It is also far less than what is sought by Syrian opposition leaders, US allies Britain and France and some US lawmakers.
The 11-nation “core group” of the Friends of Syria, including the United States, European and Arab nations, has been deadlocked over how to remove Assad, whose security forces killed and arrested thousands of protesters who took to the streets to demand democratic reforms in March 2011.
Syria’s opposition has said that it hopes the Istanbul meeting will give teeth to a tacit agreement that arming opposition groups is the best way to end Assad’s rule.
More than 70,000 have been killed in the revolt and subsequent civil war so far. But a military stalemate has set in and much of Syria is left in ruins because of a divided and ineffective opposition, a lack of action by foreign allies and Assad’s ability to rely on support from Russia and Iran.