UK newspaper: Cameron seeking to arm Syrian rebels
Published Thursday, November 8, 2012
UK Prime Minister David Cameron wants to revise the EU arms embargo on Syria, possibly leading to the UK openly arming rebels fighting to depose Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, British daily The Guardian reported Thursday.
Officials in the prime minister's office said that Cameron's visit to a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan on Wednesday pushed him to put every means to remove Assad “back on the table.”
Britain's national security council will address the Syrian crisis in a special session next week, which will include a review of the EU ban on supplying weapons to all groups in Syria, the sources added.
Syria and its allies, including Iran and Russia, have frequently accused Western countries and Arab Gulf states of covertly supplying Syria’s opposition with arms and instigating civil war in the country.
The UN estimates that more than 23,000 people have died in Syria since an uprising against Assad that started in March 2011 evolved into civil war.
Sources believe arming rebels could be considered legal since the EU embargo, signed into law two months into the uprising, specifies that sanctions be put on weapons “used for internal repression,” something that ostensibly does not apply to rebels.
On Wednesday, Cameron announced he would press newly re-elected US President Barack Obama to “do more to try and solve this crisis,” as well as to join the UK in opening direct talks with rebel fighters.
He added that the UK intends to change its policy and deal directly with opposition military leaders.
Statements from the UK, as well as Turkey's request for NATO missile defenses on its Syrian border, seem to anticipate a heightened willingness from Obama for more active engagement in Syria.