U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the Obama administration will provide the Syrian opposition with an additional $60 million in assistance and will for the first time provide non-lethal aid like food and medical supplies to rebels fighting to oust President Bashar Assad.
Kerry announced the new support and the policy shift on Thursday in Rome, on the sidelines of an international conference on Syria. European nations are also expected to signal their intention to provide fresh assistance to the opposition.
Kerry says the U.S. decision is designed to increase the pressure on Assad to step down and pave the way for a democratic transition. He says the aid is also intended to help the opposition govern newly liberated areas of Syria and blunt the influence of extremists.