By Elizabeth O'Bagy at the Institute for the Study of War | 02/28/2013 | Following the February 28 Friends of Syria meeting, Secretary of State John F. Kerry announced that the U.S. will provide non-lethal aid, including food and medicine, to Syrian rebel fighters under the auspices of the Supreme Military Command of the Free Syrian Army. This is the first time that the U.S. has publicly committed itself to sending nonlethal support to Syria’s armed opposition. The shift is intended to empower Syria’s moderate forces, although it falls short of the weapons and equipment that Syrian rebels have requested. This policy decision against providing lethal aid is largely due to concerns over the emergence of powerful Islamist brigades and extremist groups in Syria. By offering support through the new military command, the U.S. is looking to build a better relationship with Syria’s armed opposition and check the radical elements within its ranks.
As the U.S. looks to support Syria’s opposition in new ways, understanding the composition and structure of the Supreme Military Command will be vital in determining the viability of the organization and the effect such limited support will have. (READ MORE)