Syria: Britain to increase 'non-lethal' support for Syrian rebels


UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan meets with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem under a portrait of President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on May 28, 2012.



Britain has pledged "practical but non lethal support" for Syrian rebels after UN envoy Kofi Annan resigned last night, a move seen as underscoring the failure of international diplomacy in halting the Syrian conflict.

According to William Hague, Britain's foreign secretary, Annan's decision to resign was a "bleak moment" in the efforts to end the conflict, the Telegraph reported.

"Given the scale of death and suffering and the failure so far of the diplomatic process we will, over the coming weeks, increase our practical but non-lethal support," he told BBC Radio. He maintained that British support will not involve sending armaments.

Annan resigned as the international peace envoy for Syria on Thursday night, effectively closing the major diplomatic avenue for resolving Syria's civil war. He criticised the UN Security Council for "finger-pointing and name-calling" instead of taking action to resolve the crisis. Annan placed much of the blame of his departure on the Syrian government's intransigence. 

But Hague said that the move to support the rebels didn't mean that Britain was giving up on diplomacy. "We don't give up on the diplomacy with Russia and with China. But we will have to do other things as well" he said, Reuters reported.  

According to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the insurgency is the work of foreign-backed "terrorists", and his own forces acting to restore stability.

Asked about reports that President Barack Obama has authorised the CIA to aid the opposition forces, Hague declined to comment on any potential involvement of UK intelligence.

"I do not ever comment on intelligence matters but I can say that we are helping elements of the Syrian opposition," Hague said, the Daily Mail reported.  

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