Syrian rebel leader demands end to EU arms embargo

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The commander in chief of the rebel Free Syrian Army has called on the international community to supply it with arms, in its battle with the regime of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.

During a debate at the European Parliament on 6 March 2013, Salim Idriss said the Syrian people were the "first to suffer and be injured" from the arms embargo.

The EU has a blanket arms embargo in place, although the UK has announced it will provide armoured vehicles and body armour to opposition forces.

Up to 70,000 people have been killed and a million refugees have fled since the crisis began two years ago.

Leader of the Liberal group, Guy Verhofstadt MEP accused the international community - and the EU in particular - of "cowardice" by refusing to engage more with rebel forces.

"If nothing is done, this revolution will go on," he warned.

The move by the UK follows the US government's recent pledge of £40m in non-lethal assistance, amid signs that the international community may be reconsidering its policy of not providing military support to groups opposed to the Assad government.

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