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      NYT: US to Train and Equip Syria's Rebel Forces

      The US is training and equipping Syrian rebel forces in their war to oust President Bashar al-Assad, the NY Times reports.
      By Chana Ya'ar
      First Publish: 2/28/2013, 11:42 AM

      Children play on damaged tank in Aleppo
      Children play on damaged tank in Aleppo
      Reuters

      The United States is training and equipping Syrian opposition forces in their war to oust President Bashar al-Assad, according to a report published by The New York Times.

      Obama administration officials were quoted by the newspaper on Wednesday as saying the U.S. intends to offer the armed rebels non-lethal assistance and equipment for the first time.

      It is not known, however, in which country the activity is taking place.

      U.S. aid to the rebel groups is allegedly expected to include military vehicles, communications equipment and night vision gear, according to the report.

      Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters on Wednesday at a joint news conference with French counterpart Laurent Fabius that Syria’s opposition needs “more help” in its struggle against loyalist forces.

      Speaking to reporters in Paris ahead of a meeting with the Friends of Syria group in Rome, Kerry added the U.S. wanted to speed up a political transition in the country, the AFP news agency reported.

      The Syrian National Coalition (SNC), one of two main opposition forces in the country, is slated to meet for talks Thursday with a group of foreign leaders. 

      It is not clear whether the second rebel group, the 13-member Islamic Front for the Liberation of Syria, will attend the meeting.  In the past, the group -- which includes the Al-Nusra Front terrorist organization and a number of other groups linked to Al Qaeda -- has publicly rejected any cooperation with the Western-backed SNC .