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Germany refuses to supply weapons to Syrian opposition

January 30, 2014 at 11:28 pm

The German Foreign Minister has rejected the idea of providing the Syrian opposition with weapons for their struggle against the Assad regime. Guido Westerwelle told Der Tagesspiegel newspaper that providing weapons “always involves the risk of promoting a weapons-race” and a slide towards a “proxy war that may lead to inflaming the entire region”.

According to Westerwelle, EU foreign ministers acknowledged a ban on supplying weapons to Syria which only allows “delivering equipment for protection and the removal of weapons to the Syrian opposition”. He referred, by way of example, to the bullet-proof vests and equipment to locate and neutralise landmines. The German official also denied sending any military advisers to the opposition in Syria: “Neither Germany nor the European Union has such projects or plans.”

The Chief of Staff of the Syrian Free Army, Brigadier Salim Idriss, called upon the West this week to provide weapons and ammunition to his fighters. Speaking at the European Parliament in Brussels, he called the ban “really unfortunate” as it “only affects the victims” because “the Syrian regime receives weapons from Russia and Iran”.

Brigadier Idriss was appointed in December as commander of the highest military body in the Syrian Free Army, which oversees all the opposition fighters except the Nusra Front’s Islamists. He expressed his hope that Western countries will provide his staff with defensive equipment such as anti-aircraft missiles and protection against armour-piercing munitions.