03/07/2013, 00.00
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Arab League and Great Britain back Syria's armed opposition

Arab nations are willing to arm the rebels and give the opposition-in-exile greater leeway. Great Britain agrees to provide the Free Syrian Army "non-lethal" equipment. In two years, a million Syrians have fled their country.

Damascus (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Arab League ministers announced at the end of a meeting in Cairo yesterday that member nations can help Syrian rebels by any means, including weapons. All member states, except for Algeria, Iraq and Lebanon, endorsed the decision, stressing that if the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad can be resupplied with weapons from foreign nations, the rebels too should be able to have the means to defend themselves.

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El Arabi told a news conference that the ministers had invited the opposition Syrian National Coalition to take the Syrian seat at the League. This was held by Damascus until it was suspended from the organisation in November 2011.

Beside Arab nations, other countries are showing willingness to recognise the Syrian opposition as a legitimate partner. Yesterday, the British government announced that it would provide Syrian rebels with non-lethal equipment.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the UK would assist the rebels, providing armoured SUVs as well as body armour and communications equipment.

Lebanon, which is with Iraq the Arab country most affected by the crisis in Syria, attacked the Arab League and Western nations for their position.

For Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, Syria's suspension from the League should be lifted because "Communication with Syria...is essential for a political solution".

Since the Arab spring erupted two years ago, a million Syrians have fled their country; another 70,000 have died, the UN refugee agency says.

Meanwhile, Medecins sans frontiers appealed for medical equipment and staff for the areas most affected by the fighting.

For the medical charity, one third of public hospitals are no longer functioning and those still in operation lack trained medical staff because many practitioners have fled or have been captured by the army or by the rebels and are being treated as collaborators for treating fighters on the other side.


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