US government "preparing to arm Syrian rebels"
Published Friday, June 15, 2012
A senior Free Syrian Army representative has met with the American ambassador to Syria about the US providing weapons to fight regime forces, a British newspaper has claimed.
The rebel leaders' visit to Washington included meetings with Ambassador Robert Ford and Frederick Hoff, special coordinator for the Middle East, the right-wing Telegraph newspaper said.
The report said that the US had advanced contingency plans to supply heavy weapons to the rebels, including sophisticated anti-tank weapons and surface to-air-missiles.
An unnamed diplomatic source quoted by the paper said military intervention in Syria was now inevitable.
"The intervention will happen. It is not a question of 'if', but 'when'. The Libyans are willing to provide the anti-tank weapons, others are prepared to pay for it," the source said.
The move towards military intervention in Syria is expected to be discussed further at the next meeting of the Syria Contact Group scheduled for June 30 in Geneva.
Syrian President Bashar Assad has long argued that he is facing a Western-backed insurgency against his rule, with Russia and China refusing to back Libya-style foreign intervention in the country.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar have already admitted to having helped the rebels financially, and have suggested they are providing them with weapons.
Increasing violence has led the country closer towards civil war in recent weeks, with both Gulf states and the Syrian regime playing on sectarian tensions.
On Friday the head of the United Nation's observer force in Syria, which is tasked with monitoring a failing ceasefire, said the increasing violence was making their role more difficult.
"The escalating violence is limiting our ability to observe, verify reports as well as assist in local dialogue and stability," UN Major General Robert Mood told reporters.
"Violence, over the past 10 days, has been intensifying, again willingly by both the parties, with losses on both sides and significant risks to our observers."