France: No arms for Syrian opposition

France`s foreign minister threw cold water on weapons requests by the Syrian rebel forces, saying arming the Syrian opposition could lead to civil war.

Last Updated: Mar 15, 2012, 20:30 PM IST

Paris: France`s foreign minister threw cold
water on Thursday on weapons requests by the Syrian rebel forces,
saying arming the Syrian opposition could lead to catastrophic
civil war.

The Syrian opposition is divided as it marks one year
since their uprising against President Bashar Assad`s regime,
and diplomatic efforts to end fighting that has killed at
least 7,500 people appear to be stalling. Rebel forces are
asking for new weapons after defeats by government troops.

France, Syria`s former colonial ruler, is backing the
opposition against Assad and pushing for Assad`s departure,
but is wary of getting embroiled in a new conflict after its
leading role in the NATO-led airstrikes on Libya.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe says arming the
opposition could lead to "a catastrophe even larger than the
one that exists today."

"The Syrian people are deeply divided, and if we give
arms to a certain faction of the Syrian opposition, we would
make a civil war among Christians, Alawites, Sunnis and
Shiites," Juppe said on France-Culture radio today.

After two significant defeats at the hands of Syrian
government troops, the country`s rebel forces are low on cash
and running out of weapons.

"Send us money, we`re desperate. Send us weapons," Ahmad
Kassem, who coordinates military operations for the rebel Free
Syrian Army, told The Associated Press in an interview
yesterday. (AFP)

PTI