EU Move Sparks Fears of a Foreign-Fueled Arms Race in Syria

BRUSSELS (AP) – There are growing fears of a foreign-fed arms race in Syria now that the European Union has decided to permit its members to supply weapons to Syrian rebels.

Syria ally Russia quickly criticized yesterday’s EU decision to end its arms embargo, and disclosed it has a contract to sell the Syrian government sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles.

Israel warned Russia that it would be prepared to attack any such missile shipments.

France and Britain, which are considering arming rebels, say they hope the new EU position will help get the two sides in the Syrian conflict to the negotiating table in Geneva.

But a lawmaker from Syria’s ruling Baath Party says arming rebels will only discourage the opposition from seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict.

A senior figure in the main Western-backed Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, called the EU move a “positive step.” But he warned that any delay in providing weapons will mean more deaths of Syrian civilian.

The two-year-long civil war has killed more than 70,000 people in Syria and sent hundreds of thousands fleeing the country.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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