Syrian Opposition Leader in the U.S. to Seek Antiaircraft Missiles

Ahmad Al-Jarba, head of the National Coalition for Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, met Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday.

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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
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 WashiCredit: 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.

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.

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