In bold move, France welcomes Syria ambassador

Associated Press Modified: November 17, 2012 at 2:01 pm •  Published: November 17, 2012
Advertisement
;

More than 36,000 people have been killed since the Syrian uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011 and the new coalition is pressing for the means to defend Syrian civilians.

On Saturday, Syrian rebels took control of the Hamdan airport in the oil-rich province of Deir el-Zour along the border with Iraq after days of heavy fighting with Assad's forces, Rami Abdul-Rahman, the chief of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said.

The airport, near the border town of al-Boukamal, has been turned into a military base during Syria's 20 months of conflict.

Rebels had been making advances in al-Boukamal for weeks. On Thursday, they seized control of the military security building and a military checkpoint at the edge of the border town.

Separately, six people were killed and several were wounded when a mortar round hit a Damascus suburb of Jaramana, state-run SANA news agency reported. The agency said blamed the attack on terrorists, a term the regime uses for rebels, fighting to topple Assad.

In Paris, security for the visit of al-Khatib and his delegation was particularly tight, with sharpshooters on the rooftops of buildings facing the Elysee Palace courtyard where Hollande and al-Khatib spoke to reporters.

Hollande also confirmed that French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius will raise the issue of lifting the EU arms embargo against Syria at a meeting Monday in Brussels among European Union foreign ministers.

Fabius has suggested supplying defensive weapons so Syrian rebels can protect themselves from attacks by Assad's regime. Since May 2011, the EU has imposed a ban on the export of weapons and equipment to Syria that could be used for "internal repression."

Fabius will also press EU partners to recognize the coalition, Hollande said.

Hollande said al-Khatib reassured him that the coalition he leads seeks unity of the Syrian people and the French aim in moving quickly is to "assure its legitimacy and credibility."

The coalition replaces the fractious Syrian National Council as the main opposition group — also recognized first by France — although that group makes up about a third of the 60-plus members of the new coalition.

Al-Khatib met Friday in London with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and representatives of France, Germany, the United States and Turkey and Qatar.

_____

Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, Barbara Surk in Beirut and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.

_____

Ganley can be reached on twitter.com at Elaine_Ganley.

| |

Advertisement


Trending Now



AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    Check out the Thunder postseason playlist
  2. 2
    VIDEO: Blake Griffin dumps water on a fan
  3. 3
    Oklahoma City Thunder: Grizzlies guard Nick Calathes calls drug suspension unfair
  4. 4
    Dave Chappelle Reveals Shockingly Buff New Look
  5. 5
    Peaches Geldof Funeral to Be Held on Easter Monday
+ show more