BRUSSELS (AP) — British Foreign Secretary William Hague says the European Union has decided to lift the arms embargo on the Syrian opposition while maintaining all other sanctions against Bashar Assad's regime after June 1.
Hague says the decision "sends a very strong message from Europe to the Assad regime."
His statement came just a few hours after Austria's foreign minister said the European Union's top diplomats, meeting in Brussels, had failed to agree on how to deal with Syria's civil war, and that EU sanctions would likely to expire on June 1.
Austria opposes arming the rebels, arguing that pouring more weapons into the war zone would only increase the deaths in Syria and tarnish the EU's reputation as a peace broker.
Hague says Britain has "no immediate plans to send arms to Syria." But he says today's agreement gives his country "flexibility to respond in the future if the situation continues to deteriorate."