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As death and destruction continue unchecked in Syria, there have been increasing calls from some quarters for a more active policy of support for the secularist opposition on the part of Western governments, especially since the interventions of some regional actors are said to be having a strong influence on the conflict, favouring Islamist forces.

The UK government has hinted that it may make a decision to arm some opposition fighters, but this would not be legal with the EU arms embargo currently in force. On 28 February the provisions of the embargo were slightly changed and the government has said that it will step up aid non-lethal aid to the rebels.

If the UK government takes the decision to arm the rebels and cannot get agreement in the Council of the EU, it might veto the extension of the sanctions regime and replace it with UK-only legislation, allowing the UK more freedom to arm the rebels while re-instating the other provisions of the sanctions.


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