EU opens door for member states to arm Syrians, lifts arms embargo

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The European Union has lifted its arms embargo against Syria, opening the door for member states to decide for themselves whether or not to provide weapons to rebel fighters.

No immediate plans to arm the rebels were announced, CNN reported. But the removal of the embargo sends a strong warning to Syria’s President Bashar Assad, said British Foreign Secretary William Hague, in CNN.

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“It was a difficult decision for some countries, but it was necessary and right to reinforce international efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Syria,” he said, in a written statement in CNN. “It was important for Europe to send a clear signal to the Assad regime that it has to negotiate seriously and that all options remain on the table if it refuses to do so.”

More than 70,000 have been killed so far in the two-year conflict.

Several countries, including the United States, have indicated the provision of weapons to rebel fighters might be a possibility under certain conditions — if government forces used chemical warfare, for instance.

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