Russia says arming Syrian opposition would be illegal

Britain said it may provide arms to the Syrian opposition.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that supplying the Syrian opposition with weapons was illegal under international law, a day after Britain floated the possibility it might bypass an EU arms embargo to do just that.

“International law does not permit the supply of arms to non-governmental actors and our point of view is that it is a violation of international law,” Mr. Lavrov told a news conference in London via a translator.

Russia, which has itself sold weapons to the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad and has repeatedly blocked tough action against him at the UN, says the only way to solve the Syrian crisis is through dialogue.

However, Britain, France and Turkey, were increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress in that direction and had begun to talk about the possibility of lifting an EU arms embargo to allow the rebels be armed.

Mr. Lavrov and British Foreign Secretary William Hague stressed that they both believed in political dialogue, but their different opinions over arming the rebels and overtaking tough action against Syria in the UN Security Council laid bare their disunity.

Mr. Lavrov said he was concerned about the presence of Islamist radicals among the rebels.

The two-year-old conflict started as pro-democracy protests, and descended into an increasingly sectarian war.

More than 70,000 people have been killed and more than one million refugees have fled the violence with number of deaths

and rising by the day.



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