Kerry addresses concerns on flow of aid to Syrian rebels
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry walks with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal upon his arrival in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on March 3, 2013. Saudi Arabia is the seventh leg of Kerry’s first official overseas trip. JACQUELYN MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images) / JACQUELYN MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia Secretary of State John Kerry said that there is “no guarantee” that the weapons being given to the Syrian rebels won’t end up in the wrong hands, but he indicated the opposition is increasingly able to get those weapons into the hands of moderate rebels who do not have ties to extremist groups, reports CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan.
Last week the U.S. pledged millions of dollars in food, medical supplies, and non-lethal assistance to the Syrian opposition so that it can begin to provide security and govern liberated parts of Syria.
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Speaking at a joint press conference in the Saudi capital Monday, Kerry said, “I would tell you this, that there is a very clear ability now in the Syrian opposition to make certain that what goes to the moderate, legitimate opposition is in fact getting to them. The indication is that they are increasing their pressure as a result of that.”
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal — sitting next to Kerry — strongly defended his country’s decision to arm the Syrian rebels – something the Obama administration has refused to do.
Faisal said Saudi Arabia has a moral duty to stop the slaughter, and that Syrian President Bashar Assad has lost all authority.
Prince Saud stressed the importance of helping the Syrian people “exercise its legitimate right to defend itself against the regime’s killing machine.”
On Friday Senator John McCain, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told “CBS This Morning” that while he appreciates Kerry’s efforts, “to say that we are really going to change the equation with non-lethal aid isn’t going to do it.”
McCain explained that, in his view, the aid is not enough to combat the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s involvement on the ground in Syria or to stem the tide of weapons “flowing in from Russia and from Iran.”