News / Middle East

Europe Ramps Up Calls to Arm Syrian Rebels

Free Syrian Army fighters stand by their weapons in the besieged area of Homs, March 9, 2013.
Free Syrian Army fighters stand by their weapons in the besieged area of Homs, March 9, 2013.
Lisa Bryant
Europe's two biggest military powers, France and Britain, are ramping up calls for the European Union to arm Syrian rebels.  French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius added more pressure on Thursday, saying France and Britain would act unilaterally if the rest of the 27-member bloc resisted lifting an arms embargo against Syria.

The embargo comes up for renewal in May, but in an interview with French radio, Fabius said France wants it to take place quickly - possibly by the end of this month.

With more than 70,000 people dead and one-million-plus refugees, the Syrian crisis, Fabius said, was taking a horrendous toll. He said the arms imbalance was unacceptable and repeated Western allegations that Iran and Russia are supplying weapons to the Syrian government. Meanwhile, he said, Syrian rebels don't have adequate means to defend themselves.

Fabius says France and Britain will act unilaterally if they fail to persuade the other Europeans to lift the embargo.

The foreign minister's remarks are only the latest calls for more muscular European action.

On Tuesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested Britain might move unilaterally if the EU fails to lift the embargo. The Reuters news agency reports that anti-aircraft missiles count among the weapons that might be supplied to rebel fighters.  Britain has already persuaded the Europeans to allow non-lethal aid to the rebels, which could include armored vehicles.

But Germany, in particular, has resisted arming the rebels, fearing more weapons might lead to a spreading regional conflict.

The United States recently announced it would offer food and medical supplies, but not weapons to the rebels.

During a visit to Qatar last week, Secretary of State John Kerry said the Obama administration supported Middle East efforts to arm the rebels - so long as the weapons ended up in the hands of moderate members of the armed Syrian opposition.

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Comment Sorting
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
March 14, 2013 11:01 AM
Once again the Western world is looking the other way, much the same as they did during the Srebrenisa massacre in Bosnia; and the Rawanda massacres, which also should not have been allowed. Time for the nations, that can, to step up unilaterally and provide the required defensive weapons, to enable the defenseless Sunni civilian population in Syria, to protect itself against Assad and his chronies. Failure to protect the defenseless Sunni Muslim civilian population, will end up destabilizing Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq; we already see that these nations are starting to get serious problems, because of the massive number of Sunni Muslim refugees, and initial localized combat activities, related to the Syrian civil war, have taken place in Iraq and Lebanon.

by: Peace lover from: peace world
March 14, 2013 7:42 AM
I wanna tell all those nations who have been founded on the principles of democracy, respect for human dignity, peace and justice. Don't step over those ideal values by sending arms to Syrian's rebel forces if you are doing so, will you be also ready to send your children with those arms to fight against the regime. Let the Syrian people to decide their future not you. I would really appreciate if you promote peace instead of violence as there are many ways of dealing with such kind of situation through diplomatic efforts. I am sure by such overt interference in the internal affairs of a country will introduce you as pro war countries not peace loving ones. My message for Syrian people is that neither the west including the USA not the Russia care about you as much as they care about themselves...try not be regretted nation. Thanks, May peace and stability return to Syria soon! Love peace and hate violence
In Response

by: peace lover from: peace world
March 17, 2013 12:25 AM
Dear Nature Guy,

I do agree with you on Iran and Russia sending arms to Syrian tyrant regime but it does not also justify the west and USA to do similar thing which results nothing but escalating the conflict meaning more civilian causalities. I think the best would be for the powerful countries to directly deal with the regime supporters (Iran and Russia) .......I will not call bravery when two powerful man can not settle their issues directly but rather both of them engage in power show a by shedding only the civilian bloods who have nothing to do with both the rivals. i am sure as long as this power show continues, then all week nations and civilians should be ready for unjustified sacrifice....i don't really know what will happen to the world?...somebody could answer me please
In Response

by: Nature Guy from: Florida
March 14, 2013 9:23 AM
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius stated: "We cannot accept the current disequilibrium with Iran and Russia supplying arms to Assad on the one hand and the opposition unable to defend itself on the other," So, "Peace Lover," you should perhaps concentrate your efforts for peace in the direction of Iran and Russia. You certainly sound like a supporters of the Assad regime.

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