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British PM to hold Syria 'options' meeting: report
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Nov 15, 2012

Prime Minister David Cameron was to chair a meeting of senior cabinet colleagues on Thursday to discuss Britain's military, humanitarian and diplomatic options in Syria, the BBC reported.

Cameron's deputy Nick Clegg and finance minister George Osborne were expected to attend the meeting along with Foreign Secretary William Hague and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.

The report said a no-fly zone was among the options that may be discussed as well as supplying anti-aircraft weapons to the rebels fighting forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Cameron visited the Zaatari refugee camp, home to some 36,000 Syrian refugees, in Jordan last week.

Downing Street did not immediately confirm that the meeting was taking place.

On Tuesday, France became the first Western power to recognise the newly-formed opposition National Coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people and said the question of arming them must now be reviewed.

Britain and France spearheaded what later became NATO's operation to oust Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

The United States and Britain have both voiced support for the Syrian opposition coalition, which formed in Qatar on Sunday, but have stopped short of declaring it a government-in-exile.

More than 39,000 people have been killed since the uprising against Assad's regime erupted 20 months ago, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog said on Thursday.

France says will ask EU to re-examine Syrian arms embargo
Paris (AFP) Nov 15, 2012 - France will raise the issue of excluding defensive weapons from the current arms embargo on Syria to help rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's regime, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Thursday.

"For the moment, there is an embargo, so there are no arms being delivered from the European side. The issue... will no doubt be raised for defensive arms," Fabius told RTL radio.

"The issue will be raised because the (opposition) coalition has asked us to do so," he said, adding that "this is something that we can only do in coordination with the Europeans."

"France's position for the moment is to say that we must not militarise the conflict, but it is evidently unacceptable that there are liberated zones and that they be bombarded by Bashar's planes," Fabius told RTL radio.

"The issue of defensive arms will be raised," he added.

France on Tuesday became the first Western country to recognise Syria's newly formed opposition National Coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people.

French President Francois Hollande will on Saturday meet the coalition's leaders in Paris, Fabius said, including chief Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib and Georges Sabra, the president of the Syrian National Council.

Khatib on Tuesday called on world powers to arm the Syrian rebels with "specialised weapons."


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Three Israelis, 3 militants killed as Gaza violence rages
Gaza City, Palestinian Territories (AFP) Nov 15, 2012
Warplanes pounded Gaza for a second day Thursday as three Israelis and three Palestinians were killed in fierce fighting which began with Israel's targeted killing of a top Hamas chief. Israel's harshest assault on the Palestinian territory in four years, which comes as the Jewish state heads towards general elections, prompted an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council amid growing int ... read more

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