Syria opposition says EU arms ban lift too late

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ISTANBUL: Syria’s opposition on Tuesday denounced as “too little, too late” the European Union (EU) decision to lift an arms embargo on rebels fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

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“Definitely it is a positive step, but we are afraid it could be too little, too late,” said Louay Safi, spokesman for Syria’s main opposition National Coalition.

A French official in Paris stressed that “this is a theoretical lifting of the embargo. In concrete terms, there will be no decision on any deliveries before August 1.”

“The Syrian people are disappointed. They thought that democracies care about those who seek democracy,” Safi said on the sidelines of an opposition meeting in Istanbul that has been stalled by divisions.

“We need to provide protection for civilians, for the Syrian people. Weapons would be one element but also we would like to have a more serious position taken, a firm decision taken by the European Union,” he added.

Meanwhile, Russia, which has supported Assad, on Tuesday said the EU’s decision to lift the arms embargo on the rebels “directly harms” the prospects of convening a conference on the Syrian crisis.

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