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Syrian rebels urge European Union to send arms quickly


Syria's main opposition bloc has urged the European Union to quickly supply rebels fighting president Bashar Assad's forces with sophisticated weapons and help them overthrow his regime.

Today's call follows the EU's decision this week to let the Syrian arms embargo expire, paving the way for individual countries in the 27-member union to send weapons to Assad's outgunned opponents. Yesterday, Russia also renewed its intention to supply the Assad regime with a missile defence system, a move it said was designed to deter 'hotheads' from intervening in the war.

But the decision may have little impact on Syria's two-year-old conflict, since no single European country is expected to send lethal weapons to the rebels in the coming weeks.

A Syrian National Coalition statement urged the EU to promptly send “specialised weaponry to repel the fierce attacks waged against unarmed civilians” by Assad's regime and its Hezbollah and Iranian allies.

More than 70,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war.