France has started providing direct aid and money to five rebel-held Syrian cities as it intensifies efforts to weaken President Bashar Assad, in the first such move by a Western power, a diplomatic source said Wednesday.
The French aid comes as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized the Security Council on Wednesday for failing to take action to protect Syrians facing violence that has led to thousands of deaths.
Amid mounting calls for the international community to do more to prevent bloodshed, France — Syria’s former colonial ruler — has pushed to create “liberated zones” in Syria.
France has increased its contacts with armed opposition groups and started giving aid last Friday to local citizens’ councils in five cities outside the government’s control, the diplomatic source told The Associated Press. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius promised last week that such aid was in the pipeline.
(Reuters) – Damascus has sent a letter to the United Nations accusing some Lebanese areas of helping al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood to take root along the Syrian border, adding to its criticism of Turkeyand Libya for allegedly providing arms to Syrian rebels.
“Some Lebanese areas next to the Syrian border are incubating terrorist elements from al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, who are messing with the security of Syrian citizens and work on undermining the United Nations Special Envoy’s plan,” Syrian U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari wrote.
The letter, which was sent to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council, was delivered on Thursday and obtained by Reuters on Friday.
“In some areas (of Lebanon) … warehouses have been set up for weapons and ammunition that is arriving to Lebanon illegally, either by sea, or sometimes through using the planes of specific countries to transport weapons to Lebanon and then smuggle them to Syria, under the excuse that they (aircraft) are carrying humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees,” Ja’afari said.
He specifically said charities run by Lebanese Salafists and the Future Movement, led by the son of assassinated statesman Rafik al-Hariri, were being used to provide safe haven to terrorists in Lebanon.
Lebanon has had a complicated relationship with Syria, which continues to exercise some influence over its neighbor despite the 2005 departure of thousands of Syrian troops and intelligence operatives from Lebanese soil.
Last week Ja’afari accused Turkey and Libya arming Syria’s opposition, which forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have tried unsuccessfully for 14 months to crush, killing over 10,000 people in the process, according to the United Nations.
“The case of the ship Lutfullah 2, which was intercepted by the Lebanese Army, proves that Libya and Turkey are cooperating with other States to send murderous weapons to terrorist groups, in order to wreak more carnage and destruction,” he said in a letter to Ban and the Security Council last week.
Lebanese authorities said that they seized a large consignment of Libyan weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades and heavy caliber ammunition, from the ship, which it intercepted in the Mediterranean.
Turkey reacted this week with a vehement denial. “Turkey strongly rejects the unfounded allegations,” Turkish Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan said in a response to Ban and the council.
NO ‘HARD EVIDENCE’ OF AL QAEDA LINK