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                                        Volume. 12064

Saudis seeking Pakistan arms for Syrian rebels
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c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_edim_01_Syria99a(11).jpgSaudi Arabia is in talks with Pakistan to provide anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets to Syrian rebels to try to tip the balance in the war to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, a Saudi source said Sunday.
 
According to AFP, the source pointed to a visit to Riyadh earlier this month by Pakistan's army chief of staff, General Raheel Sharif, who met Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz.
 
Prince Salman himself last week led a large delegation to Pakistan, shortly after Saudi's chief diplomat Prince Saud al-Faisal visited the kingdom's key ally.
 
Jordan will be providing facilities to store the weapons before they are delivered to rebels within Syria, the same source said.
 
AFP could not obtain confirmation from officials in Saudi, Pakistan or Jordan.
 
The head of the Syrian opposition, Ahmad Jarba, promised during a flying visit to northern Syria last week that "powerful arms will be arriving soon."
 
The United States has long opposed arming the rebels with such weapons, fearing they might end up in the hands of extremists, but Syrian opposition figures say the failure of Geneva peace talks seems to have led Washington to soften its opposition.
 
Pakistan makes its own version of Chinese shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, known as Anza, and anti-tank rockets – both of which Riyadh is trying to get for the rebels, said the source, who is close to Saudi decision-makers, requesting anonymity.
 

Syria aid resolution adopted
 
Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Saturday calling for humanitarian aid convoys to be allowed access across war-torn Syria, but diplomats immediately voiced doubt about its effectiveness.
 
Syria's staunch ally Russia, with support from China, had blocked three previous resolutions aimed at pressuring the Damascus regime since the crisis began in March 2011, with an estimated half of all Syrians urgently awaiting immediate help.
 
It will not, however, trigger automatic sanctions against Syria if it fails to comply.
 
The resolution, which also criticizes the dropping of barrel bombs by government aircraft, was drafted by Australia, Jordan and Luxembourg and had the backing of Britain, France and the United States, the other permanent Security Council members.
 
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the move, but said the resolution "should not have been necessary."
 
"Humanitarian assistance is not something to be negotiated; it is something to be allowed by virtue of international law," he said.
 
"Profoundly shocking to me is that both sides are besieging civilians as a tactic of war."
 
"Some 200,000 people are under siege in government-controlled areas - and 45,000 in opposition-controlled areas," he added.
 
The text of the resolution, which was the subject of fierce negotiations between Moscow and the West and condemns terror attacks in Syria, calls for "all parties to immediately lift the sieges of populated areas... and other locations."
 
It "demands that all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, promptly allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access for UN humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners, including across conflict lines and across borders, in order to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches people in need through the most direct routes."
 
Ban added: "If this resolution is implemented quickly and in good faith, at least some of the suffering can be eased."
 
The humanitarian situation in Syria, where more than 140,000 people have been killed in the nearly three-year war and millions more forced to flee their homes, "continues to deteriorate," he said.
 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the resolution was "overdue" and that, if fully implemented, would save lives.

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