Britain to boost help to Syria rebels: Hague

AFP , Friday 20 Jul 2012

Britain vows to 'give more practical support' to the Syrian rebels as Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution against President Bashar Al-Assad

the United Nations Security Council votes on a resolution that threatens Syria with new sanctions, Thursday, July 19, 2012. (Photo: AP)

Britain will step up its support for Syria's rebels after Russia and China blocked a UN Security Council resolution against Bashar al-Assad's regime, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Friday.

Hague said Russia in particular would regret its actions, which he said would be harmful to its long-term goals in the region.

"We will all be doing more outside the Security Council and intensify our work to support the Syrian opposition, to give humanitarian aid outside the work of the Security Council," Hague told BBC Radio.

"There are several things we can do: first of all to give more practical support to the Syrian opposition. We do not give lethal support," he said.

"We've already doubled the humanitarian aid. ... The flow of refugees is rising, so we'll do our utmost to help those people," Hague said.

Hague announced during a visit earlier this week to Jordan, where he met Syrian refugees, that Britain would train 20 more Syrian activists to document human rights abuses.

He said the Syrian rebels were clearly receiving arms from the outside but that Britain was not providing any yet.

"We don't approve of sending arms into Syria, but that is happening," he said.

"I don't rule out any option for the future because we can't foresee how it will develop. But it has never been our policy in any of the conflicts in the Middle East to send lethal assistance to any of the parties involved."

Hague said the Security Council "has not shouldered its responsibilities. It is not doing what it should be doing to try to bring a solution to this."

He also rejected "spurious" claims by China and Russia that the resolution voted down on Wednesday would have opened up a path to military action.

"I think they don't want to see what happens in Syria as another victory of any kind for Western foreign policy. ... But this is not the West," he said.

"They (Russia) will regret it because I think that the situation will now deteriorate further sharply and probably to the disadvantage of the Assad regime and to the disadvantage of Russian interest in Syria and the Middle East in the longer term," Hague said.

Russia's foreign ministry on Friday slammed Western criticism of its UN veto as "unacceptable."

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