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article imageUS and Turkey look to provide Syrian rebels with 'non-lethal' aid

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By Layne Weiss     Mar 26, 2012 in World
The United States and Turkey have announced plans to provide "non-lethal" aid such as communications equipment and medical supplies to Syrian rebels, and will urge other key allies to do the same, The New York Times reports.
US President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan are in Seoul, South Korea for a nuclear security summit, but the two leaders took time out to discuss potential aid options for the situation in Syria.
"We cannot remain a spectator to these developments, " Erdogan said after his meeting with Obama. Erdogan was referring to the bloodshed in Syria, as well as the thousands who have fled their homes since the uprising began last year.
The United States had previously agreed to begin sending aid to assist the opposition of Assad's regime, but with Turkey now on board, they can send more supplies, more efficiently. So far, the United States has only sent communications gear. Both the US and Turkey insist that no weaponry of any kind will be sent.
Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security advisor commented on how "critical" communications aid from the US and Turkey could be.
"It's importance to the opposition as they're formulating their vision of an inclusive and democratic Syria to have the ability to communicate." Rhodes told reporters.
According to the New York Times, it was not clear Sunday whether the aid discussed by President Obama and Prime Minister Erdogan would be sent directly to the Syrian rebel fighters.
Activists say the opposition in Syria, both armed rebels, and non-violent protestors, are in need of aid like medical supplies.
The US, Europe, and many Arab states continue to urge Assad to step down, but Russia and China continue to protect Syria from being condemned by the UN.
Russia opposes the idea of giving military assistance to the rebels, but refuses to stop sending weapons in support of the Assad government.
President Obama has said that Assad's regime will crumble, but it doesn't look as if he plans to step down anytime soon.
The US and its European allies have tried to increase pressures on Assad's regime with sanctions, including European Union penalties on Assad's British-born wife, The Washington Post reports.
Meanwhile, according to The New York Times, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood met Sunday to discuss its vision for a post-Assad Syria. The Brotherhood is calling for a "democratic, civil state with religious freedoms."
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