EU amends Syria embargo to allow arming rebels

British Foreign Secretary William Hague says the 27-nation EU has agreed to amend an arms embargo on Syria to allow the arming of Syrian rebels trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

Hague announced the agreement in Brussels Monday, at the end of marathon EU negotiations that exposed internal divisions about how much support to provide the rebels.

Britain and France have been the main advocates of arming the Syrian rebels, while Austria and other nations had resisted such a move, fearing it could worsen Syria’s civil war.

In an apparent British concession to Austria, Hague said London has “no immediate plans” to send weapons to the rebels after the amended embargo takes effect on Saturday. He said the current embargo’s ban on weapons transfers to the Syrian government will remain in force, as will other EU sanctions against Damascus.

(Photo: EC Audiovisual Service)