Well-informed sources have told al-Hayat that the administration of President Barack Obama has lifted the veto on the delivery of anti-aircraft missiles to "select groups" of opposition fighters, as part of its policy of "gradual escalation" against the Syrian regime "to change the balance of power and put pressure on the regime and its allies to accept the negotiations to reach a political solution".
The move came after the talks between the President of the Syrian National Coalition, Ahmad Jarba, the Chief of Staff in the Free Syrian Army, Abdul Ilah al-Bashir, and Obama's National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, in Washington two weeks ago, and then with the French President, Francois Hollande, and Defense Minister, Jean-Yves Lodrian, in Paris a few days ago.
According to the sources, the talks with Obama and Holland aimed at providing political cover for greater support for the opposition to put pressure on the regime to enter the negotiations to form a transitional governing body and apply the statement of Geneva I. The move comes within "a vision that this will not be achieved during months, but a year or two".
The sources noted that the escalation includes diplomatic steps, such as recognition of the offices of the Coalition missions, giving the Syrian opposition the Syria's seat in the Arab League during the ministerial meeting next month, and handing the Coalition embassies in a number of Arab countries. These steps will be part of an understanding between members of the Friends of Syria group, and each country will provide its own effort within "a coordination strategy" among them.
U.S. officials told opposition leaders of the rejection of any direct military intervention in Syria because the president's responsibility is to "protect the American people", but that America is committed "to provide more humanitarian assistance and its commitment to a political solution in Syria", in reference to "Washington's understanding that the opposition wants military support".
American officials against the escalation had warned that delivering anti-aircraft missiles will lead to "increased militarization and push Russia and Iran to give the Syrian government more air power, which will delay the political solution".
The Coalition reported from Jarba that: "It is time to provide the Syrian fighters with the quality weapons they need", pointing out that helping them "militarily will be shown in the coming weeks on the ground". He added that "Americans have become 90 percent convinced of the need to help the fighters militarily".
Jarba also held a "closed meeting" with Rice after an extended session in the presence of Obama in Washington, Lodrian after meeting with Hollande in the Elysee, to discuss the technical issues related to "the conditions to deliver anti-jets to prevent their delivery to extremists".
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer