CAIRO (AP) — Arab countries should resist funding Sunni fighters in what is turning into a cross-border war between Iraq and Syria because that support eventually could help the fast-spreading insurgency in Iraq, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday.
Kerry said the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has become a threat to the entire Mideast, and perhaps beyond.
"This is a critical moment," Kerry said after meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
He said the group is a "threat not only to Iraq, but to the entire region."
"There is no safety margin whatsoever in funding a group like ISIL, and we particularly discourage individuals in the region who may have been sending money through some illicit charity or through various back-channel initiatives under the guise this is for the general welfare and benefit for people who have been displaced, but then that money finds its way into the hands of terrorists," Kerry said.
"We are obviously discouraging any kind of support to entities where it is unsure where the money is going ... and that goes to any government, any charity, any individual. We must not allow that kind of funding to be a part of this equation," Kerry said.
U.S. officials later made clear that Kerry was not calling for an end to aid — financial or otherwise — to Syria's moderate Sunni rebel forces. They have fought for more than three years to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose minority Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
It is possible that some support to Syrian rebels may wind up in insurgents' hands due to the amount of overlap between Sunni fighters within and between the two counties.
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