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France gives non-lethal military aid to Syria opposition: PM

AFP , Wednesday 22 Aug 2012
Syrian rebel fighters stand around a cache of homemade missiles which they say they use on forces loyal to president Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo province August 21, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)
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France is providing the Syrian opposition with "non-lethal" military aid, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Wednesday.

Speaking on BFMTV-RMC radio, Ayrault said France had responded positively to a request for help from the rebels seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"On the military level, what we have done is we have responded to a request by the Syrian National Council and the Syrian resistance to provide a certain number of non-lethal elements... means of communication and protection," Ayrault said.

The premier reiterated that there was no question of France becoming directly involved in military action in Syria without UN backing, citing the example of former US president George W. Bush's 2003 Iraq invasion.

"We have the example of Iraq where George Bush alone decided to go to war," Ayrault said. "We were opposed and we were proved right. It ended in chaos."

Ayrault also reiterated France's position that Assad must step down, a day after Syria's deputy prime minister indicated that the regime was open to discussing the leader's departure.

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