UK reluctant to arm Syrian rebels

2013-06-09 22:36
Syrian rebel fighters. (File, AP)

Syrian rebel fighters. (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

London  - Britain said on Sunday it and other countries were "very reluctant" to arm rebels in Syria even as it warned that success on the battlefield by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad was undermining chances of a Geneva peace conference.

Britain and France worked together last month to lift a European Union embargo on arms shipments to Syrian rebels, giving them the flexibility to send weapons to forces who complain they are dramatically outgunned.

But Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Sunday that no such decision had yet been taken and promised for the first time to give lawmakers a vote in parliament if and when it was.

"There would be a vote one way or the other," he told BBC TV, saying Britain and the world were faced with an agonising foreign policy and ethical dilemma.

"People have understandable concerns about the idea of sending arms to anybody in Syria and we'd all be very reluctant to do that," he said.

"On the other hand, at the moment, people are being killed in huge numbers while the world denies them the right to defend themselves."

Hague's intervention comes as US-Russian efforts to convene a peace conference in Geneva are faltering after the rebels lost control of the strategic border town of Qusair last week, weakening their negotiating hand.

One rebel commander has since been quoted as saying the opposition will boycott a peace conference unless it receives arms.

But Prime Minister David Cameron's government is split on the issue with some ministers fearing such a move could worsen the bloodshed and drag Britain into a protracted conflict.

Hague said he was gloomy about the prospect of a Geneva peace conference.

"The regime has gained ground. That makes the Geneva conference harder to bring about and to make a success. It makes it less likely that the regime will make enough concessions in such negotiations, and it makes it harder to get the opposition to come to the negotiations.

"They're not coming together in the next couple of weeks. I find that worrying and depressing," he added.

The United Nations estimates at least 80 000 people have died in the Syrian conflict.

UN humanitarian agencies launched a $5bn appeal on Friday, the biggest in their history, to cope with the fallout from the fighting that has sent some 1.6 million refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries.

Read more on:    bashar assad  |  syria conflict

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
6 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
/News
 

US biker deaths down: What's the secret?

Motorcycle deaths are on track to decline for a second year in the US thanks to a so far - on bikes - little-used road safety accessory.

 

Stay safe

US biker deaths down: What's the secret?
Pro's and con's of accredited driver-training
Juvenile pillion riders? Play safe...
Need a family ride? SA's top Mommy Cars
Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The right brain is emphasised today and it is easy for you to fly into the world of imagination and fantasy with ease. You may...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.