U.S. to Provide Almost $1 Billion to Syrian Rebels
State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki joined her White House colleague Jay Carney in announcing $300 million in additional aid to the Syrian rebels on Tuesday. National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters that this would make the total financial "humanitarian" aid from the United States to the Syrian rebels to over $800 million.
Psaki told reporters that the Department was working with "Congress" to facilitate the new commitment by the United States and that the new financial aid would not be on the ground in Syria "overnight."
QUESTION: Jen, can you update us on the delivery of aid that was pledged in April, or anything since then (inaudible)?
MS. PSAKI: I did this a little bit yesterday, but let me provide you an update. So just as a repeat, 127 has been delivered; 123 is in the process of congressional notification.
MS. PSAKI: That can take some time, and components of it are being notified at different times. And then Congress typically has some time to review what has been proposed, and the specifics of the breakdown of the 123 is all being discussed as part of that process. So that is underway right now.
QUESTION: And the new aid that was announced yesterday?
MS. PSAKI: I don't have – the $300 million in humanitarian aid?
QUESTION: The 300, yeah.
MS. PSAKI: That, of course, will go through a process of working with Congress, but also determining the best way to get it on the ground. So it doesn't usually happen overnight, but we try to do it as quickly as possible.
Ben Rhodes was the first to announce the additional aid to the rebels while traveling with the President during a press briefing overseas. Rhodes said the aid includes "food, medical equipment, water, shelter for people both within Syria and in neighboring countries." Although aid has had trouble getting to Syrians in the past, the White House and the State Department seem confident that the latest pledged aid will arrive with little resistance.
MR. RHODES: I should add just one thing, since I meant to do it in the opening. Tonight in the dinner discussion, the President will also indicate, consistent with a call that has gone out for the United Nations for additional humanitarian assistance into Syria, that the U.S. will be providing over $300 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the Syrian people. And that includes food, medical equipment, water, shelter for people both within Syria and in neighboring countries. And a significant amount of that funding will go inside of Syria -- a little less than half -- and then a significant amount will go to some of the countries bearing the burden of these refugee populations -- Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt as well. Because the international community has an obligation, even as we deal with the political situation and the security situation, to address the humanitarian situation.
So I mention that -- I meant to in the opening.
Q Is that new money, Ben, or is that money that's --
MR. RHODES: Yes, that's new money. So that will bring -- we'll have a fact sheet on that, but that will bring the total assistance that we provided on the humanitarian side to over $800 million.
Rhodes later said that it is the goal of the G8 Summit to give a total of $1.5 billion to Syrian rebels and "surrounding countries."