Britain might arm rebels if talks fail
Britain is likely to arm Syrian rebels by the end of the summer if peace talks fail to make meaningful headway during the Geneva peace conference, a British diplomat told the London-based Financial Times on Friday.
However, the country's foreign ministry was quick to stress that the decision was not final. Nonetheless rebel forces were quick to announce they have already begun preparations for the arms shipments.
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“The precise timing has not yet been finalized and no decision has yet been taken. But we are likely to be shipping arms to the rebels by August,” the diplomat said.
“What I expect is that over the next two or three months western powers will move low-grade arms supplies in bulk to the rebels. The rebels need ammunition, and a lot of it, just to keep fighting,” he added.
Rebels battle government forces. Archive (Photo: AP)
An additional official spoke to the paper and said that Britain and France expect the US to join the arms shipment and provide the rebels with weapons if and when peace talks fail, despite US President Barack Obama's reluctance to do so until now.
Source with the Syrian rebels claimed they are expecting the first batch of British arms and supplies to arrive by summer. According to opposition officials, the promise to transfer arms was made as part of the attempt to sway rebels to partake in the peace talks scheduled to take place in Geneva.
The peace summit is being orchestrated by the US and Russia, however the two powers have so far failed at finalizing a date and list of participants.
Assad's government has agreed to participate and talk to rebels on principle. One the other hand rebels are stonewalling the conference in light of Hezbollah and Iranian meddling in the conflict, however this position could change.
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