Syria – Anti-Government Forces

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): I urge the Foreign Secretary, in his forthcoming statement to the Commons, not to change Government policy. This is a military stalemate that cannot be won by the rebels or by the Government. Handing weapons to jihadists and Salafis who are leading attacks and planting bombs will make the killing worse, not better, and will hinder aid efforts with which the UK Government are helping. I urge him not to get dragged into the quagmire of a catastrophic civil war. President Assad, with all his flaws, announced at the weekend that we need to promote negotiations, and the opposition leader has said that he is ready to do so.

Mr Swire: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will hear what the right hon. Gentleman says, and he makes a valid point. I stress again, however, that the change to EU sanctions legislation concerns the provision of non-lethal and technical assistance; it is not concerned with the provision of weapons or with arming either side. I repeat what I said earlier: the countries arming President Assad’s Government in particular should stop, because it is they who are directly contributing to the carnage unfolding in Syria.