Concrete action call ahead of Syria meeting

Damascus. Members of the Syrian opposition have expressed caution in advance of an upcoming Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul.

Damascus. Members of the Syrian opposition have expressed caution in advance of an upcoming Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul.

The gathering will be hosted on Saturday by Turkey and more than 10 ministers, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, are expected to attend.

Delegates will discuss ways to bring an end to the two-year-old conflict in Syria.

The former president of the Syrian National Council, Abdelbaset Sieda, said previous Friends of Syria meetings have not produced results.

“We always hoped that it would result in concrete decisions and actions. But so far, we’ve only received promises of support without any action,” he said.

“We really hope to get real support, of all kinds, especially in terms of means of protection for the Syrian people against continuous killings,” Sieda added.

The Friends of Syria concept was formed by Western and Arab countries that support opposition to Syria’s President Bashar Assad.

Its core group includes the US, Britain, France, Germany, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Qatar and Jordan.

It has held several meetings hosted by various countries, the last one in December in Morocco, where members announced a humanitarian fund for Syrians, including $100m from Saudi Arabia and a fund to be managed by Germany and the United Arab Emirates for the reconstruction of the country.

Opposition members have repeatedly asked for increased military assistance.

“The reality is we never got the type of help that we would like to get. They (Friends of Syria) are helping us on their own terms, focusing on humanitarian aid and things that would not help us on the ground win the war with the regime,” Saleh Mubarak, an opposition figure, said.

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