Obama approves $12 million in aid to Syrians
President Barack Obama on Thursday approved an extra $12 million in US lifesaving humanitarian aid to Syrians to mitigate what he said were President Bashar al-Assad's "horrific atrocities."
The grant brings to $76 million the total amount of food, water, medical supplies, clothing, hygiene kits and other aid to some of the 1.5 million people in need in Syria, the White House said in a statement.
"After nearly 17 months of conflict, the humanitarian situation is dire and rapidly deteriorating," the statement said.
"The United States applauds the generosity of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and others who are hosting and providing assistance to refugees fleeing the horrific atrocities perpetrated by Bashar al-Assad's regime."
"The United States urges all countries around the world to contribute to the United Nations Syria humanitarian appeal.
"We also call on all parties to ensure the safety of civilians and aid workers, and the safe and unimpeded delivery of relief supplies to those in need."
The statement also repeated US calls for Assad to cede power to allow a peaceful political transition in Syria and renewed a US pledge to work with the opposition and its partners to support such a way out of the Syrian bloodbath.
Washington has previously made clear it will support Syrian rebels with humanitarian aid and communications equipment but has stopped short of providing military aid to those fighting Assad's forces.
On Wednesday, reports said Obama had signed a document authorizing covert US support to the rebels which authorizes clandestine action by the Central Intelligence Agency.
There was no indication that the move signaled a change in Washington's stance of not sending weapons into the raging conflict.