Ashton says EU to expand help to Syrian opposition

EU High Representative Catherine Ashton Wednesday repeated calls for the head of the Syrian regime Bashar al-Assad to step down but stressed that there can be no military intervention without an UN Security Council resolution.

“We are all agreed that the situation in Syria is appalling, Bashar al-Assad should leave power, the fighting must stop and the country – according to some reports 70 percent destroyed – must be rebuilt,” she told the European Parliament during a debate on Syria this evening.

“Without a Security Council mandate or a clear situation on the ground, military action by the international community is not under consideration,” she clarified.

Ashton said that when she put the arms embargo on the agenda of the reent EU foreign affairs council meeting no member state has proposed that it be lifted to arm the opposition.

“We need to work closely with Russia and Arab partners, and continue our contacts with Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In short, continue to explore options of engagement that may lead to a political dialogue further down the road,” she said.

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