PM: Lift Syria rebels arms ban

David Cameron and French president Francois Hollande will press the EU today to lift an arms embargo against Syria, and unblock military aid to rebels fighting the Assad regime.

Latest ITV News reports

French President: Syria must not become the next Libya

We are fighting terrorism around the world. We have been helping the opposition in Syria and want to go further. We trust the opposition - we do not want Syria to become another Libya.

– Francois Hollande, French President

It is an extremely difficult situation. We have a whole series of reservations regarding weapons exports to the opposition. We have to ask ourselves whether we are not further fuelling the conflict by doing that.

– Angela Merkel, German Chancellor

Advertisement

EU to discuss Syria arms embargo next week

European Union leaders have asked Foreign Ministers to assess an arms embargo on Syria during a meeting next Friday.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said:

"We agreed to task our foreign ministers to assess the situation as a matter of priority, already at their informal meeting next week in Dublin, and to develop common positions."

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy with David Cameron
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy with David Cameron Credit: Reuters

Today both Britain and France urged the rest of the EU to lift an embargo on supplying weapons to the Syrian opposition.

Britain and its allies 'must shape' Syrian opposition

David Cameron says political progress is more likely in Syria if people can see the country's opposition is a credible and growing force.

The Prime Minister dismissed suggestions that if European governments began arming the opposition then weapons would end up in the hands of the wrong people. He said it was important for countries like Britain and France to work with other allies to help the opposition.

In the end this is not about process, this is about really working out everything we can do to help achieve a transition at the top in Syria but also to help shape and work with the Syrian opposition which we now properly and rightfully recognise.

– David Cameron

Advertisement

Downing Street: EU arms embargo is 'backfiring'

EU leaders are concerned that a move from David Cameron and Francois Hollande to lift the Syria arms ban could escalate the Syrian crisis, by putting weapons in the hands of the wrong rebel groups.

A Downing Street official said: "There is a perversity about the EU arms embargo... it is backfiring."

The embargo does not stop those aiding Assad, but it does stop those who want to help the opposition.

We are not considering going ahead (with arming the rebels) while the current arms embargo is in place. What we want is to start the discussion about changing the arms embargo.

– Downing Street official

Read: Russia: Arming Syria rebels a 'breach of international law'

Britain and France ready to 'go alone' to help rebels

Meeting yesterday, David Cameron and French president Francois Hollande decided that their countries were both ready to go it alone to help the rebels fighting the Assad regime.

Jordanian border guards look out over Syria from Jordan near the site which is used by many Syrian refugees to escape the Assad regime Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

On the second anniversary of the start of the Syrian uprising, the pair will urge summit members in Brussels, to bring forward the end-of-May date for reviewing the existing arms embargo against Syria.

Currently, the embargo only allows for "non-lethal" military support.

Mr Cameron and Mr Hollande decided to make the arms embargo a priority over the scheduled discussion on the economic crisis.

Load more updates