Middle East

Arming rebels is 'incitement to murder,' Syria warns

This citizen journalism image provided by The Syrian Revolution Against Bashar Assad which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian citizens stand on rubble of destroyed houses that were damaged by Syrian forces airstrike, in the neighborhood of Darat Azza in Aleppo, Syria, Monday, June 17, 2013. (AP Photo/The Syrian Revolution Against Bashar Assad)

DAMASCUS: Discussions by Western countries on arming Syria's rebel fighters are "incitement to murder," Syria's deputy foreign minister, Faisal Muqdad, said on Monday.

"This is the principle of those who want continued killing in Syria," Muqdad told Al-Watan newspaper, after the United States said it would provide "military support" to the rebel side.

Both Britain and France have also discussed the prospect of arming the rebels, who have been battling to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad for more than two years.

Muqdad told the newspaper, which is close to the Syrian government, that such discussions were "incitement to murder and unacceptable on a human and moral level."

"Syrians must have a national dialogue without foreign intervention to reach a peaceful solution," Muqdad said.

Washington said last week that it would provide Syria's rebels with military support after it determined that the Syrian regime had used chemical weapons.

And both London and Paris have discussed the possibility of sending weapons to the diverse fighters that are battling the Syrian government.

Despite backing opposite sides in the conflict, Russia and the United States have sought to convene a peace conference in Geneva to seek a political solution to the conflict.

Muqdad told Al-Watan that Syria "would work for the success of the Geneva conference," adding that he hoped other participants would be "sincere".

The mooted conference was originally expected to take place in June, but is now unlikely to be held before July.

The opposition has said it will not attend unless certain conditions are met, including the withdrawal from Syria of members of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite group allied with the regime.





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