WASHINGTON/ BEIRUT - The United States on Saturday announced it is providing nearly $100 million more in aid to the Syrian opposition for tasks like supporting local councils and civil society activists.

This brings to nearly $500 million the amount the United States has pledged to the Syrian opposition since 2002, the State Department said. The new pledge was made by Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a regional security forum called the Manama Dialogue, in Bahrain.

“US assistance is helping keep schools open for Syrian children; restoring access to electricity and water infrastructure; supporting independent media and civil society to hold their local governments accountable, and building the capacity of the moderate opposition to play a role in a future Syria that respects human rights and the rule of law,” the department said in a statement. This assistance was announced a day after the United States revealed that is sending dozens of special ops forces to Syria to assist forces fighting the Islamic State group. Moreover, at least 70 people were killed and 550 wounded in attacks on a marketplace in a rebel-held area east of the Syrian capital Damascus, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Saturday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had announced a death toll of at least 59, including five children, in Friday’s attacks on Douma. Douma is in Eastern Ghouta, the largest opposition stronghold in Damascus province.

“This was an extremely violent bombing,” said the director of a nearby MSF-supported hospital who assisted in the first wave of mass-casualty response. “The wounds were worse than anything we’ve seen before.” “We had to do many amputations,” he said. “We did our best to cope, but the number of critically wounded was far beyond what we could handle with our limited means.”

The nearest makeshift hospital had been bombed on Thursday, killing 15 people, so medical workers struggled to cope with the influx of injured, MSF said. “The devastation caused by the initial air strike on the market was exacerbated by further shelling on the rescue teams who were attending to the wounded,” it added.

The Douma Coordination Committee, a local activist group, published gruesome video footage Friday of what it said was the aftermath of more than a dozen rockets hitting the market, showing blood-soaked bodies underneath tables.

Two more people were killed in regime air strikes on Douma on Saturday, said the Britain-based Observatory, which relies on a network of activists, medical staff and other sources on the ground for its information. Also Friday, 32 civilians, among them 12 children, were killed in air strikes on opposition-held areas of Syria’s second city Aleppo, the Observatory said. The deaths came as top diplomats from 17 countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, met in Vienna hoping to find a political solution to the four-year conflict. The Syrian regime and the opposition were not represented in the talks, and the participants agreed to meet again in two weeks. More than 250,000 people have been killed since it began in March 2011.

In the meanwhile, Israeli-Argentinian conductor Daniel Barenboim on Saturday urged the world to join European efforts to help Syrians forced into exile by the bloody civil war raging back home. “Europe alone can’t deal with (the) Syrian refugees ... the rest of the world has to participate,” he told reporters in Geneva ahead of a concert at the United Nations.

He also urged the Arab world to do its part in helping those fleeing the four-year civil war that has so far claimed a quarter of a million lives and sent millions fleeing into the surrounding countries and towards Europe.

“The Arab world should also take Syrian refugees,” he said ahead of the concert for the understanding of civilisation and human rights which will be attended by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

Europe is currently struggling with its worst migration crisis since World War II with more than 700,000 people crossing its frontiers since the start of the year, most of them Syrians. But other countries have also been inundated with Syrian refugees, with more than a million in Lebanon and another 630,000 in Jordan, UN figures show. And Turkey is hosting more than two million. “In my country (Argentina), there a three Syrian communities: a Muslim (community), a Christian (community) and a Jewish (community),” he said. “All of them would be happy to give a land to the refugees.”