Last Update 22:7
Tuesday, 12 November 2019

France says Syrian war at 'turning point,' mulls arming rebels

After fall of Qusayr from rebel control, French official calls to strengthen opposition in order to level playing field in negotiations with regime

Reuters , Tuesday 11 Jun 2013
Views: 701
Views: 701

The battlefield tilted against the rebels in Syria's civil war last week as Lebanese Hezbollah militants helped Assad's forces to retake the strategic town of Qusayr.

The weakening of Syria's rebels after Qusayr and other losses made it more difficult to bring them to the negotiating table with representatives from Assad's government, said France's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Philippe Lalliot, on Tuesday. "With the fall of Qusayr, we are seeing a dramatic development," he said. "It's even more worrying given that Aleppo is being announced as the next target of the regime and its allies ... We are at a turning point in the Syrian war."

France is among the Western countries, including the United States and Britain, that say Assad has lost his legitimacy as Syria's ruler, although they have shied away from arming the rebels for fear of bringing Islamist Jihadists to power.

Lalliot said a French official would be talking at the weekend to Salim Idris, head of the Free Syrian Army, in Turkey. The official had also started talks with the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others on how to strengthen the rebels. "There are consequences to be drawn from what happened in Qusayr and what's happening in Aleppo. The first consequence is to strengthen the ties with the coalition, and the question we're asked is whether to go one step further and deliver weapons," Lalliot said.

The lifting of a European Union embargo on arms deliveries to Syria, and rapid changes on the battlefield, meant that "talks and thinking" were now needed on the issue, he added. "We cannot leave the opposition in the situation in which it finds itself."

The United States and Russia are trying to bring Assad's government and his opponents together, but are still at odds on several issues before the talks can begin.

"The serious weakening of one of the parties does not help efforts to hold the Geneva conference," said Lalliot. "In order for both sides to negotiate, one side must not be too weak and the other too strong."

Short link:


Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.

© 2010 Ahram Online.