US Ambassador secretly meets with Syrian rebels
US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford yesterday sneaked into northern Syria to meet with Syrian opposition leaders. A US official confirmed the visit and said that the meeting took place along the Turkey-Syria border and that the Ambassador did not go deep into Syria.
As the official said: ““(The meeting) was literally just across the border.” However, he refused to provide additional details for security reasons. “Obviously, this is a dangerous area so we don’t want to get into the movement of diplomatic personnel,” he said.
A Syrian activist reportedly said Ford met with a rebel leader from Aleppo who thanked him for the delivery of some food aid being provided by the US.
Ford was recalled from Syria in late 2011 following the outbreak of violence to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Since then, he has become the Obama administration’s point man on Syria and the Syrian opposition.
The Ambassador arrived in Turkey on Wednesday after having been in Moscow with Secretary of State John Kerry in order to meet with Russian officials to discuss a possible political solution for ending the civil war in Syria. The two countries have agreed to organize an international conference with a view to seek ways to stop the conflict that has left more than 70,000 dead over the past two years.
On Wednesday, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said Ford’s meetings aim to maintain relations with the Syrian opposition and “to talk with them not only about our increasing support and their needs, but also about the opportunities for a political transition.”
Kerry today formally announced an additional $100 million (€77million) in humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees.