Source: U.S. Would Funnel Syrian Aid Through Regional Allies

A senior congressional aide says the U.S. may have regional allies transfer aid to Syrian rebels.

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The United States would not use U.S. military forces to funnel humanitarian and other aide to rebels in Syria, says a senior Senate aide.

Obama administration officials acknowledged they are mulling whether to provide assistance to the rebels in Syria, where the United Nations says some 8,000 have been killed. Among the items being considered are communications gear, Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communication, told reporters travelling with the president on his trip to Korea.

[See pictures of the violence in Syria.]

"It's important to the opposition as they're formulating their vision of an inclusive and democratic Syria to have the ability to communicate," Rhodes said.

But actually getting any goods to rebel forces is a thorny matter, military experts and lawmakers say. Unlike Libya, where U.S. and NATO forces used air and naval power to aid rebels in toppling Moammar Gadhafi, Syria is a tiny nation. That means its population centers are tightly packed with forces loyal to President Bashir al-Assad, rebel units and civilians.

Administration officials have raised concerns about using U.S. military forces to move aid in, fearing an escalation of the fighting or more civilian deaths.

The Senate aide, whose boss has close ties to the Pentagon, told U.S. News & World Report if Washington moves aheadwith an aid package "this would generally be done through our allies in the region."

A Pentagon spokesman had not yet replied to a request for comment.

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