There’s quite a bit of news coming of out of Syria today. The big one is a report from The Washington Post, quoting “U.S. and foreign officials” saying that the Persian Gulf states and the United States have stepped up their efforts to assist and arm the opposition.
The Post reports that a senior State Department official says the U.S. is providing “non-lethal assistance,” such as help with a command-and-control infrastructure.
The paper adds:
“The U.S. contacts with the rebel military and the information-sharing with gulf nations mark a shift in Obama administration policy as hopes dim for a political solution to the Syrian crisis. Many officials now consider an expanding military confrontation to be inevitable.
“Material is being stockpiled in Damascus, in Idlib near the Turkish border and in Zabadani on the Lebanese border. Opposition activists who two months ago said the rebels were running out of ammunition said this week that the flow of weapons — most still bought on the black market in neighboring countries or from elements of the Syrian military — has significantly increased after a decision by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other gulf states to provide millions of dollars in funding each month.”
At the same time, the United Nations rescued a team of international observers whose vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb on Tuesday.
The AP reports that no one on the team was hurt but they did have to spend the night with the rebels. The AP adds:
“He said the observers were meeting with members of the rebel Free Syrian Army when Tuesday’s explosion occurred. He said three vehicles were damaged. It was not clear who was behind the blast and no one claimed responsibility.
“More than 200 U.N. observers have been deployed throughout Syria to monitor the cease-fire agreement, which has been repeatedly violated by both sides since it took effect on April 12.”
As we’ve reported, Syria is in the midst of an uprising that started more than a year ago and has killed more than 9,000 people. The international community has tried to broker a deal between rebels and the regime of Bashar Assad, but so far the violence is unabated.