New York:  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday unveiled a total of USD 45 million in new funding for humanitarian aid and to help the civilian opposition in Syria.

Some USD 30 million will go towards aid, bumping up the total US funding for humanitarian relief to USD 130 million with a further USD 15 million for the civilian Syrian opposition, she told a meeting of the Friends of Syria.

The talks were attended by nine Syrian activists, who have been working with local coordination committees in cities such as Homs.

Some of them had traveled from within Syria to New York to spell out to leaders of about two dozen countries -- out of the 90 nations which make up the group -- what their needs are.

Washington has, however, insisted it will not bow to calls to arm the rebels, fearing it will further complicate the situation on the ground.

Iran will do utmost to protect Syrian regime: Clinton

Clinton on Saturday warned Iran would do its best to prop up the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as she opened talks on helping the Syrian opposition.

"There is no longer any doubt that Tehran will do whatever it takes to protect its proxy and crony in Damascus," Clinton told the meeting of the Friends of Syria, also attended by nine Syrian grassroots activists.

"The regime's most important lifeline is Iran," Clinton added, insisting "Iran will do everything it can to evade international sanctions."

She was addressing the opening of a meeting of the Friends of Syria, called to see how the international group could step up support for the Syrian opposition in its bid to oust Assad.

Nine Syrian activists, who have been working with local coordination committees in cities such as Homs, were attending the meeting.

Some of them had traveled from within Syria to New York to spell out to leaders of about two dozen countries -- out of the 90 nations which make up the group -- what their needs are.

The United States has long accused Iran of funneling weapons and support to the Assad regime, aiming to keep it in power, and helping to drag out an 18-month conflict which has already cost some 30,000 lives.

(Agencies)

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