Government calls on Assad to comply with UN resolution
In a debate on developments Syria and the Middle East, Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi has emphasised the need for President Assad to comply with the resolution passed by the UN Security Council earlier this month.
The Council has unanimously approved a resolution on access to humanitarian aid in Syria - the first time it has united on the issue.
The resolution says both Syrian government and opposition forces must allow aid convoys to reach civilians across the country.
Lady Warsi described the agreement as a "significant diplomatic success" which should be regarded as "the first tentative steps of progress".
But she cautioned that rapid implementation of the resolution was necessary, as the situation in Syria continues to be "bleak and disturbing".
She called on President Assad to comply by permitting aid to reach blockaded areas, warning of a "stark contrast" between the opposition National Coalition and the Damascus regime in willingness to reach a political solution.
The resolution does not draw on Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which allows the UNSC to pursue military action, which was highlighted by Labour's Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, a former minister in the Foreign Office, who asked: "What is the next step open to the UN if Syria fails to comply?"
The vice-president of the Lib Dem Friends of Israel, Lord Palmer of Childs Hill, asked wanted peers to recognise "one source of aid and relief which receives little publicity and is a surprise to many people is from neighbouring Israel".
The strategic importance of the Syrian-Iraq border was raised by crossbencher and former chief of the defence staff, Lord Stirrup, who referred to it as "an ungoverned space" which "poses serious dangers".
Another former Foreign Office Minister, Lord Howell of Guildford, said of anti-government uprisings across the Middle East: "Instead of the order that one hoped was going to come with orderly protest and cries for liberty, we have on every side chaos."