'They make promises but nothing happens': Syrian rebels urge western backers to urgently intervene against Assad

Britain part of international coalition drawing up plans to provide air and naval power to the opposition

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The Independent Online

Syria's rebels fighters have urged their Western backers to speed up plans to help them against the Assad regime, claiming the delay is leading to setbacks.

An offensive by the revolutionaries in Damascus came to a halt because of a lack of heavy weapons and supplies running out, according to some of those who had taken part.

The Independent revealed today that Britain is part of an international coalition drawing up plans to provide combat training for the opposition and support them with air and naval power. General Sir David Richards, head of the UK's armed forces, hosted a meeting with the military chiefs of France, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, the UAE and a three-star American general to discuss the strategy.

There were conflicting reports of a "massacre" in an Alawite village in Hama province last night. It was unclear who was behind a series of explosions in Aqrab with unconfirmed reports of casualties varying from 10 dead to 200 injured or killed. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the figure at 125.

The decision by the UK, US and France to consider intervention was partly due to extremist jihadist factions getting the lion's share of arms and money coming from the Gulf at the expense of moderate groups.

Yesterday, the US State Department labelled the most prominent jihadist group, Jabhat al-Nusra, which has links with al-Qa'ida, a terrorist organisation, making it illegal for American citizens to fund it.

Amar Mohammed Abbadallah, of the Al-Farouq brigade, a rebel group opposed to Al-Nusra, said today: "The Americans have made them illegal? So what? They will continue to get weapons from Qatar and other places. What the Americans and the British should do is help us."

The Obama administration last night recognised the new rebel political umbrella group, National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.