Britain urges sanctions, not military force, against Syria

7th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Foreign Minister William Hague called Monday for "ever-increasing" international pressure, rather than military intervention, to end the violent repression in Syria.

"I don't think the answer to (the repression) now or subsequently would be a military intervention from outside," Hague told reporters in Strasbourg after a meeting of Council of Europe ministers.

The situation in Syria is "dramatically more complex" than that in Libya before NATO intervened in March, he said.

"We will not be able to apply the same answer in Syria as in Libya," he said. "I do think however we should apply ever-increasing international pressure to the Assad regime."

Additional sanctions against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad are the way forward, Hague said.

"Of course, the UK would like to be able to pass a resolution at the UN Security Council bringing the condemnation of the world on the use of force against civilians by the Syrian regime," he said.

Syria is currently under EU and US sanctions, but Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution against Amman in October.

Hague's comments came as the opposition Syrian National Council called for "international protection for civilians" in the flashpoint central city of Homs, besieged by government forces and the scene of deadly clashes between soldiers and alleged army deserters.

Hague said he "deplored" the brutal crackdown since anti-regime protests broke out mid-March, in which around 3,000 people are thought to have died, according to UN estimates.

"Obviously we have to judge the Syrian regime by its actions, not by its words. Its actions remain completely unacceptable and in total violation of the most basic concept of human rights," Hague said.

"It's particularly disappointing that it is taking place now, after the Syrian government said a few days ago that it had accepted the request of the Arab League to withdraw its forces from towns and cities, to release political prisoners and to end the killings," Hague said.

The Arab League has accused Syria of failing to honour its commitment to an Arab-sponsored plan to end violence against protestors.

The United States said Monday it would firm up sanctions against Syria.

© 2011 AFP

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