Western and Arab countries supporting Syria's rebels

DOHA, June 23 (Xinhua) -- Western and Arab countries supporting Syria's rebels on Saturday agreed to further arm the opposition at a meeting here on the latest development of the Syria conflict.

In a joint statement, foreign ministers of 11 countries that attended the "Friends of Syria" meeting agreed to "provide urgently all the necessary materials and equipment" to the Syrian opposition, which has fought against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the ground.

  The statement said that each country could aid the Syrian rebels in its own way in order "to enable them to counter brutal attacks by the government and its allies and protect the Syrian people.

"They also condemned the intervention of the Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah militia and fighters from Iran and Iraq, urging them to withdraw immediately, according to the statement.

   Foreign ministers from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey attended the talks.

  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that all parties agreed that ending the 27-month-long violence would allow the Syrian people to choose their future.
   "The continued bloodshed at the hands of the Assad administration and the increasing involvement of Iran and its proxy Hezbollah threaten the prospect of a political settlement and peace," he told the ministerial meeting.

   "And we also condemn, all of us, any atrocity by any extremists or by any opposition group that might engage in," Kerry added. Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, prime minister of Qatar, one of the Arab countries that back anti-Assad forces, said the only way to end the Syria conflict is to arm the opposition and provide it with all the forms of support.

   "Force is necessary to achieve justice. And the provision of weapons is the only way to achieve peace in Syria's case," the prime minister said at the start of the talks.He also called for a peace conference in order to resolve the Syria conflict but insisted that Assad and his aides would not be allowed to appear in the future government.

  France echoed Kerry's remarks, saying that Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah should stop providing support to the Syrian government. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said all the ministers of the meeting demanded that Iran and Hezbollah end their intervention in the conflict.  "We are fully against the internationalization of the conflict," Fabius said.

   The foreign ministers of the "Friends of Syria" meeting also agreed that all the weapons and equipments should be channelled through the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), one of the opposition forces in Syria, as the United States and its allies feared the military aid might easily end up in the hands of Islamist radicals like Nusra Front, an offshoot of al-Qaida.

  Earlier on Thursday, the Western-backed FSA said in a statement that it was going to ask the "Friends of Syria" to render "qualitative" weapons and to impose a no-fly zone over Syria. On Friday, Loai Mekdad, FSA's media and political coordinator, told local media that his organization has received "qualitative weaponry" that were delivered to the fighters on several fronts where they fight the Syrian troops, and the new weapons would reshape the battle against the government.

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