Syrian death toll estimated at above 80,000
A senior State Department official spoke in Istanbul on Sunday about Syria and a recent meeting with Turkish officials and the leader of the Free Syrian Army. Secretary of State John Kerry met with General Salim Idris, the chief of staff for the Free Syrian Army, as part of an extended session on Saturday.
"(Secretary Kerry had) a detailed session with the Syrian opposition and also for the first time with General Idris and the Syrian military command," the official said. "He gave a very detailed briefing to the ministers about the military situation province by province. Very - and then he talked about what they need, what are their problems. In contrast to the other meetings that we have held of this nature, this one was by far the most frank, by far the most substantive in terms of the discussion back and forth. I think it was very useful, extremely useful. Let's see how it plays out on the ground."
The official said the State Department has notified Congress of the intent to give additional support to the political opposition coalition, General Idris and the supreme military command. Congress must approve the support for the programs to move forward.
According to the official, the estimated death toll in Syria recently rose above 80,000, the regime of Bashar al-Assad continues to use SCUD missiles and there are continued allegations of chemical weapons use.