US and UK officials have suspended non-lethal aid to Syrian rebels in the north of the country following reports that Islamist insurgents had seized several Free Syrian Army bases.
‘Non-lethal aid’ includes medicine, vehicles and communications equipment.
The Western-backed FSA is apparently under attack from a new rebel group known as the Islamic Front, provoking concerns among US and UK officials about whose hands the aid they supply is falling into.
White House Deputy Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, explained the decision during a press conference on Wednesday.
“We’re still gathering facts and consulting with General Idris and the Supreme Military Council staff to inventory the status of US equipment and supplies that had been provided to the SMC,” he said. “As a result of this situation, as you pointed out, the United States has suspended all further deliveries of non-lethal assistance into Northern Syria. At the same time, it’s important for people to understand that our humanitarian assistance, which is distributed through international and non-governmental organisations, including the United Nations, is not affected by this suspension.”
The UK Foreign Minister has said “as far as we know at the moment” no British equipment has fallen into the hands of Islamist militants. However he has expressed support for the decision to suspend aid, until officials “know exactly what has happened.”