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US increases aid to help Syrians
WASHINGTON – President Obama said Tuesday the United States will provide $155 million in new humanitarian assistance to Syrians, nearly doubling the American commitment as the number of refugees from the civil war continues to rise.
In a video statement announcing the new aid, Obama used tough language to condemn Syrian President Bashar Assad and his government.
“For nearly two years, the Assad regime has waged a brutal war against the Syrian people – murdering innocent men, women and children in their homes, in bread lines and at universities,” he said.
Obama said the assistance would go for clothing and blankets as winter approaches, medicine and food.

Dozens of bodies in Syrian river reveal mass killing

– The bodies of least 65 people shot in a mass killing were found in Aleppo, Syria, on Tuesday, according to opposition activists.

A video posted online Tuesday showed many of the victims lying on the muddy banks of the Quweiq River in the Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood of southwestern Aleppo with their hands bound.

Most appeared to have been shot in the head, and some of the victims appeared to be teenagers.

Bustan al-Qasr has been the site of heavy fighting in recent days as the Syrian military has launched several attacks to retake the neighborhood from rebel control.

Opposition activists said it was not clear who carried out the mass killing, when it happened or why. Since the bodies were fished out of the river, it was possible that the victims were shot somewhere outside the city, they said.

Some activists said the killing was probably carried out by the Syrian military or the pro-government shabiha militia and surmised that the victims could have been political detainees.

“We have a fear that they might be political prisoners from the central prison of Aleppo,” a reporter with the opposition Shaam News Network who goes by the name Majed Abdul Nour said in a Skype interview from Aleppo.

“This river where we found them passes by the central prison.”

Opposition groups said they expected the number of dead to increase.

News of the massacre surfaced as President Obama pledged an additional $155 million in humanitarian aid for Syria on Tuesday.

The announcement of increased aid comes a day before the International Pledging Conference for Syria is scheduled to be held in Kuwait.

The conference, to be chaired by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, aims to raise funds to address the dire humanitarian needs of Syrian civilians inside the country as well as the tens of thousands of refugees who have escaped the fighting.

In New York, meanwhile, Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. special envoy to Syria, prepared to deliver what was expected to be a grim report on the situation in the country to the U.N. Security Council.

Brahimi appeared to be making some progress late last month in talks with Russia, the Syrian government’s most powerful foreign ally. But his efforts were undercut by a speech by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in early January that made it clear he would not leave power, one of the key demands of the opposition.