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Syria opposition leader Ahmad Jarba and Secretary of State John Kerry. / Associated Press

President Obama met Tuesday with members of Syria's opposition, though the White House was silent on the rebels' requests for weapons to battle Bashar al-Assad's government.

"Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to a political solution to the conflict that includes a transition to a new governing authority," said a White House statement.

The statement came after Obama dropped in on a meeting that included National Security adviser Susan Rice and a delegation led by Ahmad Jarba, president of the Syrian Opposition Coalition.

"The president and Ambassador Rice condemned the Assad regime's deliberate targeting of Syrian civilians through aerial bombardments -including the use of barrel bombs - and the denial of food and humanitarian assistance to civilians located in areas under siege by the regime," said the White House.

The White House said that Jarba thanked Obama for "U.S. non-lethal assistance, which totals $287 million and supports the coalition, local communities inside Syria, and the moderate armed opposition." The U.S. has also provided $1.7 billion in humanitarian assistance.

From the AFP wire service:

"There was no mention in the statement of Jarba's previous plea to the administration for anti-aircraft weapons to combat the barrel bombings unleashed by Assad's forces.

"U.S. officials privately acknowledged he made the request in talks with Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department last week, but they refused to be drawn on the response.

"Washington is worried that such weapons could eventually end up in the hands of groups hostile to the United States or its allies and could even pose a threat to commercial aircraft."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Obama meets with Syrian opposition leader

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