'You need to go to Geneva': Opposition source reveals threat made by Britain and US over Syria peace talks

The two Western powers could withdraw support from the rebels unless they attend

Britain and the US have threatened to withdraw support from the Syrian rebels unless they attend forthcoming peace talks, a senior member of the opposition to Bashar al-Assad's regime has claimed.

The official revealed that there were divisions among the international backers of the opposition. While London and Washington issue ultimatums, France, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have pledged solidarity whether or not the regime's opponents attend the negotiations scheduled for next week in Geneva.

“The US and UK are telling us 'you need to go to Geneva'. France is asking us to go but saying 'we are with you whatever your decision is': that is the same as the Saudi and Turkish stance”, said the official during a visit to London.

“The US and UK are making it very clear they will not continue to support us the way they are doing now, and that we will lose credibility with the international community if we do not go.”

The French have stated they will continue to supply aid and equipment, but not weaponry, he added. The Saudis are providing arms to the Supreme Military Council (SMC), the military arm of the main opposition group, the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC), while other countries are arming extreme Islamist groups. “The problem is that not all the suppliers are on the same page”, he said.

The US and UK suspended the sending of ‘non-lethal’ military items to the opposition after a number of border crossings from Turkey fell into the hands of Islamist groups and the supplies were stolen. William Hague told the Commons that Britain is reconsidering the ban. However, he rejected a call by a cross-party group of MPs, including recently departed Middle East minister Alistair Burt, to provide weapons for the rebels.

The foreign secretary also announced that a warship, HMS Montrose, will join a convoy transporting the first consignment of weapons from President Assad's chemical arsenal and stated the UK would assist the US to “neutralise” the most dangerous material.

The disillusionment of the opposition with the West reached its height when the West failed to take military action against the regime after the crossing of Barack Obama's 'red-line' with the chemical attack on Ghouta, near Damascus.

Mr Hague insisted that the only way ahead was a diplomatic solution and the Geneva talks were imperative and “it was vital for both the regime and the opposition to attend. We will do everything possible with other nations to help it succeed.”

The opposition will formally decide whether it attends Geneva on Friday. It remains divided over the talks with some holding that the US and Britain are pushing it to turn up while confidence building measures asked from the regime prior to the talks have been ignored.

The official pointed out that a humanitarian corridor to provide aid to swathes of the population trapped by the fighting and facing extreme hardship is yet to materialise as are mooted release of female prisoners. President Assad's forces, meanwhile, have stepped up attacks, including air strikes, on civilian areas.

Asked whether attending the Geneva talks would lead to further fracturing of the opposition with possible resignations from those opposed to the process, the official acknowledged that was a possibility, before adding: “We have always had resignations, it is the Syrian way.”

The Assad regime, the survival of which has depended on the Kremlin's support, openly questioned the credibility of the meeting, casting doubts on whether any of the objectives could be achieved. It said in a statement that decisions in Paris were “closer to illusions than reality and taken by people who are detached from reality and extremely far from any acceptable political logic.”

There were also doubts about localised ceasefires. A number of rebel factions, including the FSA, are currently involved in battles with Isis (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) an extension of al-Qa'ida, in rebel held Aleppo and Idlib provinces. Territories being won from Isis are currently passing into the hands of the Islamic Front, a group which does not recognise the SNC and may not accept any deal it agrees to with the regime in Paris via the Americans and the Russians.

Syria terror arrests in Britain

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences relating to activities in Syria, police said tonight.

West Midlands Police said the pair, both aged 21 and from Birmingham, were detained at Heathrow Airport today after arriving back in the UK on a flight from Turkey. Detectives believe the men travelled to Syria last May.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football'Mr Marmite' faced the possibility of a 28-day ban
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower