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Friends of Syria Agree To Provide 'Urgent' Support To Rebels

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses the "Friends of Syria" meeting in the Qatari capital, Doha, on June 22.
The "Friends of Syria” group of nations opposed to President Bashar al-Assad's regime have agreed at talks in Qatar to give urgent military support to Syrian rebels fighting for his overthrow.

The ministers from the 11-nation grouping agreed on June 22 "to urgently provide all the necessary materiel and equipment to the opposition on the ground, each country in its own way in order to enable them to counter brutal attacks by the regime and its allies."

In a statement, the group also condemned the role played in the conflict by Lebanese Shi'ite group Hizballah, who supports Assad's forces.

The agreement comes after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters earlier on June 22 that more military support for the rebels would strengthen their position at proposed peace talks with the Syrian government.

Kerry maintained that the peace talks, expected to take place in Geneva this summer, was the best way to end Syria's two-year conflict.

"The framework for that political solution is there," he said. "It already exists. And it has been endorsed by the United Nations, by the League of Arab States, by the European community, by the United States, others -- have all come together and said -- the best solution, the only real solution to the problem of Syria is a political solution. We don't believe there is a military solution."

Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, who also attended the meeting in Doha, suggested that providing the rebels with military aid was "the only way to achieve peace."

Last week, the White House said it had evidence that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons and that Washington was ready to start providing weapons to the rebels.

The European Union has lifted its embargo on supplying weapons to the opposition.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP
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