Friends of Syria vow to provide substantial assistance to Syrian opposition

June 22, 2013

The Ministerial Meeting of the Core Group of the Friends of Syria concluded in Doha this evening. During the deliberations, participants discussed means of providing support to the Syrian opposition and distributing humanitarian aid to Syrians inside and outside of their country. Afterwards, a joint statement was issued by the Foreign Ministers of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and the United States.

The ministers expressed their concern over the growing sectarian nature of the conflict and denounced the intervention of Hezbollah, as well as fighters from Iran and Iraq, on the side of the repressive Assad regime. They warned that these actions threaten the unity of Syria, raise the possibility of the regionalization of the conflict, and serve to undermine the Geneva peace initiative just recently announced by Russia and the United States. They demanded that these fighters leave Syria immediately and called on Hezbollah and Iran to take steps to limit sectarian tensions.

The ministers also expressed concern over the allegations, confirmed by France, the UK and the US, that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons. Warning of the serious consequences of such a move, they called on Damascus to allow access to a United Nations team to investigate the reports.

In direct response to the actions of the Assad government and with the goal of supporting the Geneva conference, the ministers agreed to take urgent, practical steps to support the Syrian opposition and change the balance of power on the ground. These measures will include: providing all necessary equipment for the opposition to counter the government’s brutal attacks; channeling all military support through the Staff Chairmanship of the Syrian Supreme Military Council; preventing the crossing of pro-regime fighters into Syria; supporting the Syrian people at the U.N.; and emphasizing to Iraq and Lebanon the importance of safeguarding their borders.

The ministers reiterated their support for reaching a political solution in Syria and expressed readiness to attend the Geneva summit. They advocated the establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive power – excluding Bashar Al-Assad and his associates with blood on their hands.

Finally, the ministers stated their deep concern over the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Syria, as well as the burden being placed on neighboring countries hosting thousands of refugees. They called upon the international community to shoulder its responsibilities and to take urgent, tangible actions to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.