March 13, 2015 / 3:57 PM / 5 years ago

U.S. to send $70 million in non-lethal aid to Syrian opposition

A general view shows a damaged street with sandbags used as barriers in Aleppo's Saif al-Dawla district March 6, 2015. REUTERS/Hosam Katan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department said on Friday it was working with Congress to provide about $70 million in new non-lethal assistance to the Syrian opposition fighting President Bashar al-Assad.

The aid comes as the U.S. military separately prepares to train and equip Syrian rebels to fight Islamic State militants in Syria.

The non-lethal aid will go toward basic community services, supporting “vetted units of the armed opposition,” digital security training, and documentation of war crimes and other violations by the Syrian regime, the State Department said.

“As we have long said, Assad must go and be replaced through a negotiated political transition that is representative of the Syrian people,” said Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, in a statement.

The non-lethal aid, announced on the fourth anniversary of the revolution against Assad, brings total U.S. support to the Syrian opposition to nearly $400 million since the start of the revolution, the State Department said.

Reporting by Emily Stephenson and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Sandra Maler

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