France Sends Funds to 5 Syrian Civic Groups
The French government is providing funds to five revolutionary councils in rebel-held parts of Syria to help them restore water supplies, sanitation, health services and bakeries, a senior French diplomat, Éric Chevallier, said Thursday.
French diplomats say that France is not supplying funds for weapons or providing weapons to the rebel Free Syrian Army, an umbrella for a number of disparate groups that are separate from the councils. But they say they are in regular conversation with the rebels, to hear their needs and to encourage them to unite and to protect minorities and democratic values. France also wants to ensure the support of the armed rebels for the program of aid to the civilian councils, the diplomats say.
The fighting between the forces of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and the rebels continued in hot spots around the country, with opposition groups reporting at least 67 people dead. The groups described heavy shelling and gunfire in the suburbs of Damascus, especially south of the city. In the south, the groups said the storming of a town near the Jordanian border had stirred fears that the Syrian military might try to dam the torrent of refugees crossing into Jordan. The Free Syrian Army north of Aleppo said late Thursday that it was attacking the Minakh air base, one of the last Syrian military positions in the area, and a potential source of weapons and equipment.