France - United Kingdom - Syria

Hollande steps up pressure on EU Syrian arms embargo

Reuters/Laurent Dubrule

French President François Hollande stepped up the pressure on supplying arms to Syrian rebel fighters on Friday, the day after Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that France and the UK might ignore a European Union arms embargo if it isn’t scrapped soon.

Advertising

Hollande wants a decision on the arms embargo “in the next few weeks”, he said after an EU summit in Brussels on Friday.

On Thursday evening German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that dropping the embargo could mean more weapons going to Bashar al-Assad’ regime than to the opposition.

“Weapons are being supplied by countries, including Russia, to Bashar al-Assad and his regime,” Hollande replied on Friday. “We have to draw the necessary conclusions and take a decision in the next few weeks.

European parliament president Martin Schultz on Friday criticised Britain and France for speaking individually before others have done so and called for an in-depth examination of the question.

“Because Mrs Merkel is not completely wrong,” he commented. “Supplying arms to the opposition means more arms going to Assad from other countries.”

Several European countries are worried that arms given to the rebels could end up in the hands of Islamist militias.

Earlier this week the Netherlands raised its terror alert because it feared that Dutch citizens are going to fight in Syria and returning radicalised.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning