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U.S. Increases Aid To Syria As Violence Rages On


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States will give another $45 million in aid to Syria. That aid will mostly go toward humanitarian assistance, but it will also include communications equipment for the opposition in Syria. The news came at the end of a week of speeches at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, where many raised alarms about the bloodshed in Syria. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Secretary Clinton gathered Arab and European officials as well as Syrian activists to talk about what sort aid everyone can provide. She says conditions are deteriorating as Bashar al-Assad's regime continues to wage war on its people.

SECRETARY HILLARY CLINTON: We see more bodies filling hospitals and morgues and more refugees leaving their homeland and flooding into neighboring countries.

KELEMEN: The secretary general of the Arab League, Nabil El Araby, lamented the fact that diplomacy has so far led to, as he put it, closed doors.

NABIL EL ARABY: The situation in Syria gets even more precarious, more explosive, more dangerous and as a threat of a wide sectarian civil war looms over Syria and, indeed, over the region at large.

KELEMEN: But while the U.S. and others are offering more aid to the so-called liberated areas in Syria, Radwan Ziadeh of the Syrian National Council tried to persuade them to do more in the way of protection, including a no-fly zone.

RADWAN ZIADEH: Still, we having difficulties explaining to the West and to the U.S. the threat of the air force of the Assad regime and the importance of the no-fly zone.

KELEMEN: Speaking in the lobby of the Waldorf Hotel, Ziadeh said that Syrian opposition figures want to rebuild schools and hospitals in areas they control, but they're under constant threat of Syrian air strikes.

ZIADEH: If you increase the humanitarian assistance, you are dealing with the symptoms rather than the disease. The disease that Bashar al-Assad still in power can do more atrocities, can do more massacres.

KELEMEN: Secretary Clinton says what the U.S. is trying to do is support those in Syria working on a democratic transition from the ground up. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.