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Friends of Syria pledge 'material support' to Syria opposition


(From L) US Secretary of State John Kerry, Syrian National Coalition President Mouaz al-Khatib and Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi attend a press conference at the end of a meeting of the "Friends of the Syrian People (FOSP) Ministerial" group on February 28, 2013 in Rome. Photo - AFP

Rome: US, European and Arab officials gathered for the "Friends of Syria" meeting in Rome promised on Thursday to provide more concrete assistance to the opposition battling President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"The ministers pledged more political and material support to the (National) Coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people and to get more concrete assistance inside Syria," host country Italy said in a statement after the talks between 11 nations and the Syrian opposition.

The statement "underlined the need to change the balance of power on the ground", adding that efforts would be made to help rebel forces "exercise self-defence".

The statement expressed concern over the "appalling conditions" suffered by Syrian civilians and urged Assad's regime to end "indiscriminate bombardments against populated areas."

The statement also deplored "the unabated arms supply to the regime by third countries."

The statement praised the opposition National Coalition for its reform efforts and plans for it to this weekend choose the head of an interim government.

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