After last week, when Islamists wrested control of critical locations such as bases and storage warehouses from Syrian rebels, the United States has halted the delivery of all nonlethal aid to the region. According to BuzzFeed, the northern Syrian region has long been a rebel stronghold and its heightened instability is a big concern for the State Department. While the U.S. has suspended its own nonlethal aid, humanitarian aid from the United Nations and other NGOs will continue.
The Free Syrian Army, the main Western-backed coalition, has slowly been losing control of the region to more extreme rebel groups, including parts of al-Qaeda and the Islamic Front, a rival faction. American officials are concerned that supplies given to one group might be used by another and are working to catalog what is currently available. The warehouses contained food, medical kits, communications equipment, and transport vehicles.
According to The Washington Post,
A growing number of rebel factions, disillusioned by the low level of Western support, have been aligning themselves with Islamist groups that receive more generous funding from Persian Gulf Arab states.
The loss of a group of warehouses belonging to the FSA's Supreme Military Council has less to do with the loss of physical supplies than with the loss of legitimacy conferred upon the rebel group by virtue of having received Western aid.
A spokesperson for the State Department said that they were "obviously concerned," but were not ready to render a judgement on what this meant in the long-term. Officials said that the halt was temporary.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.