Syria rebels ‘need guns not food’ says leader

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The chief of Syrian rebel forces said yesterday that his fighters are in “desperate” need of weapons and ammunition rather than the food supplies.

The United States announced on Thursday that it was giving an additional $60 million (£40m) in assistance to the country’s political opposition and said that it would, for the first time, provide non-lethal aid directly to rebels battling to oust Syrian president Bashar Assad.

Several European nations are expected to take similar steps in the coming days.

But a number of Syrian opposition figures and fighters on the ground expressed disappointment with the limited assistance yesterday.

General Salim Idris, chief of staff of the Syrian opposition’s Supreme Military Council, said the modest package of aid to rebels – consisting of an undetermined amount of food rations and medical supplies – will not help them win against Assad’s forces who have superior air power.

“We don’t want food and drink and we don’t want bandages. When we’re wounded, we want to die. The only thing we want is weapons,” he said in a telephone interview from northern Syria.

“We need anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to stop Bashar Assad’s criminal, murderous regime from annihilating the Syrian people,” he said.

“The whole world knows what we need and yet they watch as the Syrian people are slaughtered.”

Syria’s main rebel units, known together as the Free Syrian Army, regrouped in December under a unified Western-backed rebel command called the Supreme Military Council, following promises of more military assistance once a central council was in place.