(WASHINGTON) — President Barack Obama has ramped up U.S. aid, including communications equipment and medical supplies, to Syria's opposition in hopes of accelerating the downfall of President Bashar Assad, officials said Friday.
The president signed off on the package last week, U.S. officials said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. They declined to outline all forms of American assistance because of the danger anti-Assad protesters have faced over the last year.
After a year of violence in Syria, a tenuous truce has taken hold this week. Tens of thousands of Syrians protested against the government Friday. Security forces used live fire, tear gas and beat some protesters, but there was no immediate sign of wide-scale shelling or sniper attacks.
Obama spoke about potential aid options last month during a lengthy private meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in South Korea. Officials said at the time that Washington and its allies were considering providing Syrian rebels with communication, medical and other "non-lethal" aid.