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Saudi Arabia, US to boost support for Syrian groups

Saudi Arabia and the US say they will intensify support to 'moderate' Syrian opposition [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 October, 2015

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The United States and Saudi Arabia agreed to increase support to Syria's 'moderate' opposition, the US State Department said after John Kerry met King Salman on Saturday.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has met with Saudi Arabia's monarch, King Salman, to follow up on discussions he held earlier this week with others about efforts to revive a peace process for Syria.

Kerry met the king at outside the Saudi capital late Saturday.

The State Department says Kerry and the king reaffirmed their commitment to a unified, pluralistic and stable Syria without current President Bashar Assad as its leader, and that they pledged to continue and intensify support to the moderate Syrian opposition while the political track is being pursued.

Kerry and the Saudi, Russian and Turkish foreign ministers met on Friday in Vienna to discuss ways of promoting a political transition in Syria. They are expected to meet again next week to further consider the way ahead.

     Bashar Assad told a visiting Russian delegation that eradicating "terrorist" groups will lead to the political solution.



They pledged to continue and intensify support to the moderate Syrian opposition while the political track is being pursued. 

Meanwhile, Syrian media say President Bashar Assad told a visiting Russian delegation that eradicating "terrorist" groups in Syria will lead to the political solution that Damascus and Moscow are seeking.  

Assad's comments were reported Sunday by state media. The brief comments were made during a meeting between Assad and a Russian parliamentary delegation in Damascus.

The top diplomats from Russia, the US, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are discussing new ideas to revive a failed political transition in Syria to end the war, now in its fifth year.

The push follows a Russian military intervention in Syria, targeting with airstrikes what Moscow and Damascus call "terrorists."

Assad told the delegation the new Russian role is "the writing of a new history" and will determine the future of the region and the world.

Airstrikes hinder aid delivery

On Friday the International Committee for the Red Cross [ICRC] said that airstrikes in Syria are making it harder to deliver desperately needed aid to civilians suffering from the country's brutal war. 

"Air bombardment makes it more difficult for us to reach some areas," said the head of the ICRC's Middle East and North Africa operations, Robert Mardini.

More use of weapons in any conflict will create additional difficulties in the humanitarian situation," he said.

The ICRC had been planning to evacuate wounded from areas in west and northwest Syria as part of a recent ceasefire agreement, "but now it's harder because of air bombardment," Mardini said.

Russia and a US-led coalition are conducting airstrikes in Syria in addition to the Syrian air force's own operations.

Moscow has said it is targeting "terrorists" but has come under fire for striking non-extremist groups and inflicting civilian casualties.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said Russian warplanes struck a field hospital in northwest Syria on Tuesday, killing at least 13 people including hospital staff.

Russia angrily rejected the claim as "fake".

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