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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Russia warns EU against lifting arms ban on Syria militants

Iran Press TV

Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:44PM GMT

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned the European Union against lifting an embargo on weapons supply to foreign-backed militants in Syria, saying the move violates international law.

Lavrov said in a press conference on Monday that the EU's international obligations dictate that the 27-member bloc should ban the supply of arms and ammunition to non-state clients.

"The public lifting of this embargo, if it comes to this -- and I say if, because there are more than few reasonable nations within the EU who have voiced their serious concern about such step -- will still leave us with the international obligations of the EU nations banning the supplies of weapons and ammunition to non-state subjects," Lavrov said.

Last week, a group of countries supporting Syria's opposition met in the Turkish city of Istanbul. The so-called Friends of Syria ended the meeting with the intention to consider the easing of the arms ban against armed groups in Syria.

On February 28, EU foreign ministers last extended the embargo for three months. The sanctions are, however, always up for review by the bloc's member states. The embargo will expire on May 31.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said at a press conference at the end of Istanbul meeting that the US planned to double the financial assistance to the militants and provide them with what he called a non-lethal package.

The new package, which would provide an additional $123 million aid to the militants, brings the total of US help to $250 million.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Many people, including large numbers of Syrian army and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.

The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.

Damascus says the West and its regional allies including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are supporting the militants.


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