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Syrian rebels pin hopes on influx of weapons from Jordan

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 20th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Syrian rebels besieged in the outskirts of Damascus say a steady advance by President Bashar al-Assad's forces is upon them. The besieged fighters say they are pinning their hopes on an anticipated influx of weapons from the Jordanian border. The rebels are now struggling to fight back against government forces, who have gained a foothold by winning a strategic border town further north. They are also being aided by Lebanese Hezbollah militants and Shi'ite Iraqi fighters.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The regime's goal is to slowly bleed us until we are forced to surrender. They are advancing slowly to preserve their fighting force," Amran, an activist speaking by Skype from the ring of suburbs known as the Eastern Ghouta says.

The success of the rebellion may now very well hinge on military support from Western and Arab backers. "We can survive for a long time, because our fighters know the terrain, but until we get weapons we cannot repel the advance," Amran said.

A recent United States decision to give Syrian rebels military support gave hopes that an arms pipeline from Jordan would reopen. The influx of weapons was shut down as the both the U.S. and Russia negotiated a planned "Geneva 2" peace conference. The recent G8 meeting saw no narrowing of the differences between Moscow, Assad's main arms supplier, and Washington, which wants Assad to step down in any transition.

In spite of a reluctance on the part of U.S. officials to describe what aid may be forthcoming, the mostly Sunni Muslim rebels expect Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia to step up support to help them fight Assad, who is chiefly backed by Riyadh's regional Shi'ite rival Iran in a two-year conflict that has become increasingly regionalized.

"We had several meetings in Jordan and Ankara and discussed opening the weapons pipeline to the Damascus rebels from Jordan. I expect good news soon ... We will be getting advanced weaponry but I cannot say what kind," Abu Moaz al-Agha, a spokesman and commander from the Ansar al-Islam brigades in Damascus says.

Rebels say they want anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to challenge the dominance of Assad's air force, which has allowed him to keep rebels on the defensive even in their own territories through daily air strikes.

"We still need time to plan out the system for delivering the weapons. But I am hoping that within 30 days there will be changes on the ground," Agha said, speaking by Skype.

Rebels surrounding Damascus lost nearly all their supply lines and are struggling to get enough food, let alone weapons, into the eastern and southern outskirts of the capital.

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