Ahmad al-Jarba
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), Syrian opposition leader Ahmad al-Jarba and Foreign Relations Committee chairman Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) pose for photos before a meeting on Capitol Hill, May 7, 2014 in Washi Photo by AFP
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Syrian opposition leader Ahmad Al-Jarba plans to ask the Obama administration for antiaircraft missiles during his visit in the U.S., The New York Times reported Thursday.

Al-Jarba, who heads the Syrian opposition National Coalition for Revolutinary and Opposition Forces (SOC), mett Secretary of State John Kerry later Thursday. He may also talk to President Barack Obama, The Times reported, citing an unnamed administration official.

Al-Jarba understands the stakes in Syria better than any one, US Secretary of State John Kerry said.
 
Welcoming Al-Jarba to the State Department, Kerry told reporters that Al-Jarba's coalition is "inclusive and moderate" and committed to the Syrian people. He said that while there had been "difficult moments in this journey, the United States is committed to it."
 
Kerry said the continued dialogue with the opposition is aimed at putting an end to the violence perpetuated by the regime, easing the humanitarian crisis in Syria and building a government responsible to the needs of the Syrian people.
 
Al-Jarba thanked Kerry and the "superpower countries that play a leading role in the world" for their support. The coalition's goal is to build a pluralistic, civil state where the majority can live together with the minority in peace, he said.Al-Jarba confirmed to the Times that the Syrian opposition had already received American TOW antitank missiles.

The Washington Post reported last week that a moderate opposition group, Harakat Hazm, had taken the first delivery of American TOW missiles. US officials continue to deny that they are sending lethal aid to the rebels.

On Monday, the U.S. government conferred foreign mission status to the SOC, and Thursday's meetings confirm a more formal relationship with the opposition.

In March, the U.S. closed the Syrian government's embassy in Washington and ordered its diplomats to leave, citing "the atrocities the Assad regime has committed against the Syrian people."

The SOC already has offices in Washington and New York.

Al-Jarba is accompanied on his stay in the U.S. by Brigadier General Abdul Ilah Bashir, leader since February of the opposition's military wing.

Their visit comes as nearly 1,000 rebels gave up their enclave in the central city of Homs under a deal with the government, in another sign that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is gaining the upper hand.