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'Friends' of Syria to Arm Assad's Foes

A Syrian rebel fires a weapon in Damascus on Friday. Eleven nations agreed on Saturday to supply opposition forces in Syria with military aid (AP Photo/Ugarit News). A Syrian rebel fires a weapon in Damascus on Friday. Eleven nations agreed on Saturday to supply opposition forces in Syria with military aid (AP Photo/Ugarit News).

Nearly a dozen state adversaries of the Syrian government on Saturday finalized military aid plans aimed at shoring up resistance fighters in their 2-year-old war against forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, Reuters reported.

The 11 main countries in the "Friends of Syria" coalition pledged to rapidly send "all the necessary materiel and equipment to the opposition on the ground," though individual governments could opt to provide alternative support in place of weapons. The Supreme Military Council, a rebel group favored by Western powers, is expected to disperse assistance; the United States and its European allies hope the measure will prevent aid from flowing to militant groups such as the al-Nusra Front militia.

Supreme Military Council spokesman Louay Meqdad said the organization had taken custody of its first arms shipments from a foreign government.

One insider said "arrivals of [Saudi] advanced weapons" had accelerated over the prior week, and another described the support as "potentially balance-tipping."

The 11 nations said Damascus should permit a U.N. team to conduct an investigation in the country of chemical strikes allegedly carried out in the conflict, Agence France-Presse reported. The group was comprised of Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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