Monday, 18 March 2013

"Syria: Arms embargo relaxation would ease distress, says Hague"

From the BBC:

A failure to supply weapons to rebel fighters in Syria would add to the risk of "extreme economic distress" in the UK's defence industry, William Hague has warned.

The foreign secretary said movement of arms would have to be "very carefully controlled" to ensure that full payment was received by hard-pressed UK weapons exporters. But the government had to "weigh some risks against other risks", he added.

The prime minister has urged the European Union to end its embargo on the supply of UK and French arms to Syria. Currently the UK's arms manufacturers are sending "non-lethal" equipment to help the forces opposed to President Bashar al-Assad, but they have requested permission to provide further assistance.

Up to 70,000 people have been killed in Syria and a million refugees have fled the country since the crisis began two years ago.

The latest UN figures show that two million have been internally displaced, while 400,000 have fled abroad since the start of the year, with the largest number seeking shelter in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. The UK has provided £139m to help build contacts with possible customers in refugee camps.