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                                        Volume. 11909

Brahimi cancels Tuesday's Syria peace talks
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c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_edim_01_Syria99(20).jpgSyria's warring sides did not meet again at peace talks in Geneva on Tuesday, the UN said, after a morning session broke up with differences over the creation of a transitional governing body.
 
After announcing the start of a morning session around 11:00 am (1000 GMT), the UN said in a terse statement later that "no meeting has been planned for this afternoon."
 
"(International mediator) Lakhdar Brahimi cancelled the afternoon talks to give (Ibrahim) Jaafari time to think over Geneva I," opposition negotiator Ahmed Jakal told Reuters, referring to the Syrian government chief negotiator.
 
"There is deep resistance by the government to move the discussions onto the question of a transitional government," he added.
 
Tuesday's morning session saw the government delegation present a statement it wanted adopted by participants condemning Washington.
 
The statement, obtained by AFP, said "the United States has made a decision to resume arming terrorist groups in Syria."
 
Reports on Tuesday indicated that congressional lawmakers have quietly authorized sending small arms, an assorted variety of rockets, and financial backing to so-called “moderate” rebels fighting in Syria’s civil war, according to a new report.
 
American and European security officials told Reuters that the U.S. will provide anti-tank rockets, but nothing as deadly as shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles (known as MANPADs), which can be used to bring down military or civilian aircraft.
 
Legislators voted in closed-door meetings to fund the opposition forces through September 30, the end of the U.S. government’s fiscal year. The decision is an about-face from congressional debates last year, in which the same committees were reluctant to supply arms over concerns that American weapons would wind up in the hands of radicals fighting in the region, the al-Qaeda-backed Al-Nusra being the most well known.
 
Now, though, those concerns appear to have lessened. Exactly when Congress approved the funding is not known, yet the sources speculated that it was signed in a classified section of a defense appropriations bill that was approved in December.
 
“The Syrian war is a stalemate,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and current foreign policy advisor to U.S. President Obama with the Brookings Institution. “The rebels lack the organization and weapons to defeat Assad; the regime lacks the loyal manpower to suppress the rebellion. Both sides’ external allies…are ready to supply enough money and arms to fuel the stalemate for the foreseeable future.”
 
Despite the uncertainty remaining around the conflict, Western officials have asserted in recent weeks that “moderate” rebels have strengthened their positions in the south of Syria and have begun excluding al-Qaeda sympathizers. Extremists are known to be in control of rebel forces in the north and east, however.
 
U.S. and British officials temporarily suspended “non-lethal aid” (a category that includes communications equipment and transportation vehicles) in December, although officials now say they hope to resume providing assistance to the Supreme Military Council (SMC), which oversees rebel forces favored by the West.

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