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Britain calls for arms for Syrian rebels

BRUSSELS, Feb. 18 (UPI) — Britain’s foreign minister appeared to be supported only by France Monday when he called on European Union countries to arm rebels in Syria, officials said.

Speaking before the start of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, William Hague told reporters “there’s a broader range of equipment” the EU could provide forces fighting the regime of President Bashar Assad, the EUobserver.com reported.

The embargo the EU has placed on the shipment of arms to Syria expires at the end of February.

An EU diplomat said after Hague’s comments that France would support the move by Britain to relax the embargo.

Free Syrian Army forces have sought anti-aircraft weapons to defend themselves against aerial attacks by Syrian forces.

The FSA has warned that better-armed jihadist forces have drawn support from the reluctance of Western nations to provide military aid to the rebels.

Several ministers expressed concern Monday about ending the embargo.

Didier Reynders of Belgium said if the embargo were lifted, “we have to sure we can control the distribution of arms.”

The biggest skeptics were the Czech Republic, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Poland, with Poland’s Radek Sikorski saying “We think that pouring fuel onto the fire is very risky.”

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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