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Eyeing Arms Plans, U.S. Checks Syrian Opposition's Shipping Channels

A boy stands near a flag for the al-Nusra Front, a Syrian affiliate of al-Qaida, during a 2012 anti-government demonstration in Aleppo, Syria. The United States is reviewing the ability of Western-backed Syrian rebels to deliver nonlethal aid to intended recipients amid U.S. preparations to begin arming opposition forces (AP Photo/ Manu Brabo). A boy stands near a flag for the al-Nusra Front, a Syrian affiliate of al-Qaida, during a 2012 anti-government demonstration in Aleppo, Syria. The United States is reviewing the ability of Western-backed Syrian rebels to deliver nonlethal aid to intended recipients amid U.S. preparations to begin arming opposition forces (AP Photo/ Manu Brabo).

The ability of Syria's Western-backed resistance forces to deliver foreign aid to designated recipients has come under close U.S. scrutiny as Washington moves to begin arming the rebels, Reuters reported on Thursday.

A U.S. finding that President Bashar Assad's government employed chemical arms in the 2-year-old Syrian civil war played a key role in the Obama administration's rationale to send military aid to members of the resistance. Still, the potential for U.S. arms to find their way to extremist elements of the Syrian opposition has worried Congress, which has placed caps on finances for transfers of weaponry.

The rebels "have so far passed the test," a participating U.S. State Department insider said. U.S. officials have asked rebels for photographs to prove that shipments are reaching their planned destinations; aid now includes large transport vehicles and advanced injury-treatment technology.

More than 100,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict since it began in 2011, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in Thursday comments quoted by the Associated Press.

The rebels urgently need U.S. arms to stave off defeat by Assad's regime, the president of the anti-Assad Syrian National Coalition told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Developments in Syria have grown "desperate," and Washington must act to spur an international call for "a political transition," AP quoted coalition leader Ahmad Jarba as saying in written remarks.

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