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.

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Cameron and Hollande urge 'lift Syria 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.

Prime Minister David Cameron and President of France, Francois Hollande during a press conference in 2012 Credit: Andrew Winning/PA Archive

At a summit in Brussels, the political leaders will express concerns that they are both anxious to be freed up to despatch lethal weaponry if necessary to rebalance the odds in the continuing war.

It is two years today since the start of the Syria conflict, where more than one million refugees have fled, with more than two million children in immediate need of humanitarian assistance, Unicef said.

Read: Prince Charles' 'heartbreak for Syrian refugees'

Cameron and Hollande 'locked in talks' over Syria arms

by - Europe Correspondent

Syria was not even on the agenda at this summit, so it is a measure on how fast this situation is moving.

Within moments of arriving there, President Hollande and David Cameron were locked in talks about how best they could move the EU leaders they were joining with to reconsider the position on EU sanctions, sanctions that were only reviewed three weeks ago.

Shortly after that meeting, we were told there was going to be an additional piece of business added to the agenda tomorrow, and that was going to be whether or not there was a way to move forward, so that the EU could support the rebel fighters in Syria.

There's a feeling here, whilst there is a belief that the Assad regime are getting weaponry, there's no way to support the civilians who are being attacked by that weaponry. That's why they feel it is so important they review the position.

There is of course major concern on how to keep arms in safe hands and not falling into Islamist fighters' hands. Germany are extremely reticent about moving into a position where they start to supply arms.

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EU arms embargo 'backfiring' on Syrian rebels

The European Union's arms embargo is "backfiring", a Downing Street official said today, after French President Francois Hollande and David Cameron held one-to-one talks on arming Syrian rebels. The 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

France to raise Syrian arms embargo at EU summit

France will raise the issue of lifting a European Union embargo on supplying weapons to Syrian rebels at the EU summit, President Francois Hollande has confirmed.

Arriving for the summit in Brussels, he told reporters:

We want the Europeans to lift the embargo on the weapons ... Since we have to put pressure on and show we are ready to support the opposition, we have to go that far. That is what I will tell my European colleagues ... Britain and France agree on this option.

Hollande said France did not want Syria to go towards "total war" and believed a political transition must be the solution for Syria, but he said: "We must accept our responsibilities."

David Cameron's spokeswoman has confirmed the Prime Minister met Mr Hollande in private at the start of the summit to discuss Syria.

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