France gives 1.5 million euros to Syrian revolutionary committees
France has been providing aid to areas of Syria held by forces fighting the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius revealed Wednesday after accusing government forces of dropping cluster bombs and barrels of TNT on the population.
“Several countries have asked to join us” in the initiative, Fabius told an international meeting on the Syrian conflict in Paris.
France has handed out 1.5 million euros to 15 civilian “revolutionary councils” so that “these areas can be freely administered” and “don’t fall into anarchy”, Fabius said. Most are in rebel-controlled regions but some are in towns, such as Homs and Hama, which are mainly controlled by the regime, he said.
The money is given to Turkish opposition figures in Turkey and they decide who should receive it in Syria.
One such area is Maaret al-Numan on the Damascus-Aleppo road, according to Le Figaro journalist Georges Malbrunot. The town, identified as “M” by the French foreign minister, was captured by rebels two weeks ago and is now being bombed by the regime, diplomats have told him, adding that France has contributed 6,000 euros to the reconstruction of an industrial bakery.
Local people say that barrels of TNT have been dropped on the town, a charge repeated by Fabius; who went on to accuse the regime of using cluster bombs, which 76 countries, not including Syria or the US, have agreed not to use.
Human Rights Watch on Monday said that cluster bombs had been dropped on Maaret al-Numan and other towns but Damascus denied the claim.
Representatives of the local committees present at the Paris meeting called for the creationg of no-fly zones and support for civilian groups managing rebel areas.