Hague: Britain to give aid to Syrian rebels

Arab World Materials 10 August 2012 15:21 (UTC +04:00)

Britain will supply "non-lethal" aid worth 5 million pounds (7.7 million dollars) to rebel forces fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Friday, dpa reported.

"In the absence of diplomatic progress, the United Kingdom will do much more. We will expand our support to the Syrian people and the Syrian political opposition with an extra 5 million pounds in non-lethal practical assistance," said Hague.

The assistance would help to protect unarmed opposition groups, human rights activists, and civilians from some of the worst of the violence," said Hague in London.

The aid would be in addition to, and not separate from, humanitarian assistance. It would include technical equipment, radios and medical supplies, but not weapons.

The move, which marks a change in British politics towards Syria, did not amount to taking sides in the civil war, said Hague.

A Foreign Office spokesman confirmed earlier that British government officials would also have meetings with "political elements of the Free Syria Army."

"The risk of total disorder and a power vacuum in Syria is so great that we must build relationships now with those who may govern Syria in the future," he said.