EU must extend Syria arms embargo, Oxfam says

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EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels next week must extend the arms embargo on Syria and push for a political solution to the country’s civil war, British-based charity Oxfam said Friday.

The aid agency said it would be “irresponsible” not to widen the arms ban and warned a failure to do so could extinguish hopes of a breakthrough at the U.S.-Russian peace summit scheduled for June 12.

“Allowing the EU arms embargo to end could have devastating consequences,” warned Oxfam’s Head of Arms Control Anna Macdonald.

“There are no easy answers when trying to stop the bloodshed in Syria, but sending more arms and ammunition clearly isn’t one of them.”

The charity warned that attempts by Britain and France to channel weapons into the hands of rebel fighters could “fan the flames of the conflict and cost lives.”

“There are serious risks arms could be used to commit human rights violations,” said Macdonald.

“Transferring more weapons to Syria can only exacerbate a hellish scenario for civilians.”

“The UK and France are charting a risky course of action,” she added. “Diplomacy should be the priority.”

More than 94,000 people have lost their lives in the conflict which flared two years ago following protests against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

EU ministers are due to meet on Monday to discuss their response to the ongoing crisis.