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EU to consider ‘all options’ to aid rebels as Syria asks for humanitarian help

Published time: December 16, 2012 03:33
Edited time: December 16, 2012 10:10
Reuters / Aaref Hretani

Reuters / Aaref Hretani

EU leaders have called on their foreign ministers to consider all options to support the Syrian opposition and put pressure on the Syrian leadership. It comes as the Syrian FM blames sanctions for the country’s humanitarian crisis, asking for UN aid.

“Nothing is off the table,” British PM David Cameron warned during the recent EU summit, sending a message to President Assad and urging for an early review and possible lifting of arms embargo’s against Syria.

Britain demands “the speediest possible” political transition in Syria and is ready to work with the opposition to achieve that, Cameron said.

The disputed arms embargo lift – a move that would open the door to possible equipment supplies for the Syrian opposition- is also supported by France.

Germany has spoken for regime change in Syria as Angela Merkel stressed that “the future of Syria is without Assad.” However, loosening the arms embargo is yet to be thoroughly discussed, the German Chancellor added.

The European Council has agreed “to work on all options to support and help the opposition and to enable greater support for the protection of civilians” in Syria, a Friday statement said.

EU foreign ministers are expected to talk over the ways of non-lethal assistance for the Syrian opposition at the Brussels January 28 meeting.

Syrians still suffer

As the EU leaders considered another wave of measures against President Assad, Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, blamed Western sanctions for the suffering of the Syrian people.

Al-Moallem has called on the United Nations to condemn the sanctions imposed on Syria and urged the Western countries to lift them during his meeting with UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos.

The sanctions imposed by the US and the EU include a freeze on the Syrian government assets of Assad and an embargo on oil and arms trade.

Syria’s foreign minister has also asked to expand the Syria-UN cooperation on humanitarian aid, saying the civilian infrastructure has been badly damaged by armed terrorist groups.

Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, is to brief the UN Security Council about the humanitarian situation in Syria on Monday.

But the reports of the worsening humanitarian situation have already been circulating in the media.

Damascus authorities have taken to emergency measures to supply the people with food and fuel commodities, Syrian government officials reported.

The largest Syrian city, Aleppo, is reportedly on the verge of humanitarian crisis, with thousands of people queuing for bread and using furniture to heat their homes. Unending clashes between government and armed rebel forces have gripped Aleppo ever since some of its districts were taken over by militant groups.

Fierce fighting has recently been reported on the southern outskirts of Damascus, with conflicting reports on government and opposition fighters’ gains in various media sources.