Monday

23rd Sep 2019

EU offers Syria rebels 'non-lethal' equipment

  • Diplomats in Rome again declined to arm the rebels in Syria (Photo: Joel Bombardier)

The European Union on Thursday (28 February) agreed to supply Syria’s opposition, the Syrian National Coalition, with "non-lethal military equipment."

The amended arms embargo will allow for “the provision of non-lethal equipment and technical assistance for the protection of civilians,” said member states in a joint statement.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The provisional EU list includes armored vehicles.

But none of it can be used to engage an enemy that has tanks, Scud missiles and fighter jets at its disposal.

Over 70,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war as combat continues in urban areas. Hundreds of thousands have fled for safety and refuge across borders in neighbouring countries.

The UN agency for refugees says a total of 940,000 people are either registered or awaiting registration as refugees. More than half are women. The number is expected to pass the symbolic 1 million mark in March, said a UN spokesperson.

The EU has offered some €200 million in humanitarian relief, but Thursday’s announcement is sure to disappoint the rebel command as the pro-regime Syrian army continues to indiscriminately hit city blocks with heavy tanks and air assault strikes.

Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city lies in ruins after months of relentless assaults by the Syrian regime. Snipers, checkpoints, and explosions are a daily reality for those who remain behind.

Last week, a Syrian army Scud missile hit an Aleppo suburb, killing dozens.

The Syrian regime has repeatedly denied the use of the ballistic missile but the US department of state officially condemned the Scud attack.

Syrian National Coalition President Moaz Alkhatib pleaded with US secretary of state John Kerry and the EU in Rome on Thursday to release weapons to help the rebels fight the regime.

Kerry agreed to supply rebel fighters with medical aid, food and gave $385 million in humanitarian funds.

“Many sides ... focus [more] on the length of the rebel fighter's beard than they do on the blood of the children being killed,” said Alkhatib, reports Reuters.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar each pledged last month around $300 million to relieve the unfolding humanitarian crisis.

But the UN said on Thursday the aid money has yet to materialise, reports the Guardian.

The World Health Organisation noted that the funds to help its efforts continue to arrive from Scandinavia, the UN, and the EU.

Feature

Back from hell, back from Syria

The West should give the Free Syrian Army food and anti-aircraft defences, one EU parliament official says after visiting the war torn country.

Opinion

Time to end the silence on Syria

Last week, the Syrian government launched at least four ballistic missiles in the direction of the city of Aleppo, the second-largest city in Syria.

News in Brief

  1. Doubt cast on new Maltese inquiry into slain reporter
  2. March by Slovak Catholics seeks abortion ban
  3. 600,000 stranded on holiday as Thomas Cook collapses
  4. Egypt: hundreds of protesters arrested over weekend
  5. Global car industry fears no-deal Brexit shock
  6. France: de-escalation between US and Iran priority
  7. Spain demands UK 'reciprocity' on resident rights
  8. Ireland: right Brexit deal is 'not yet close'

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  2. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  4. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  8. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  10. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  11. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  12. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us