France takes the lead with aid for Syrian rebels


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The Independent Online

France has begun sending aid directly to Syria's opposition, in the first such move by a Western power.

The country began channelling the assistance without intermediaries last week to three regions of Syria where the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has lost control, a diplomat said.

But it remains limited, primarily repairing bakeries, water systems and schools. And while apparently more than the indirect assistance extended by other Western countries, it is still far from what is needed to make a difference, Syrian opposition activists said.

The Syrian capital, Damascus, was hit by fresh bombings yesterday that underlined the increasingly violent nature of the uprising against President Assad's rule. Two bombs were reported by state television: the first near a mosque in the northern Damascus neighbourhood of Rukneddine, killing at least five people, and the second in the neighbourhood of Mazze, which caused no casualties but damaged several vehicles.

The second bomb was reported to have gone off between the buildings of the ministry of information and the ministry of justice, which are about 100 metres apart. Friday is the weekend in Syria and institutions are usually closed.