Updating MPs in the House of Commons on the situation in Syria, Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the regime of President Bashar Assad was ‘doomed’.
Hague noted the soaring death toll in Syria and the failure of the UN Security Council to confront the violence. The Foreign Secretary condemned both Russia and China for three times vetoing resolutions attempting to tackle the fighting, and said the wider international community had to ‘step-up’ and contribute to humanitarian efforts – which are substantially short of the required funds.
Updating the Commons on the situation in Syria, Hague said more than 20,000 people had died in the fighting over the past 17 months, 1.5 million were internally displaced and 230,000 people had fled across borders to Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.
Despite the grim situation in Syria, Hague said that the UK’s objective remained the same: ‘an end to violence and a transition to a more democratic and stable Syria’. He noted that these objectives were the only way to ‘avoid protracted civil war, the collapse of the Syrian state, an even greater exodus of refugees and further appalling loss of life’.
Hague told to the assembled MPs that he had authorised ‘limited contacts’ between London and representatives of the Free Syrian Army. He said that London had provided ‘an extra £5 million pounds in non-lethal practical assistance to help protect unarmed opposition groups and human rights activists in Syria.’
‘We have already trained over 60 Syrian activists in documenting human rights violations, and provided support including equipment for 100 Syrian citizen journalists to report on events in Syria. Activists who helped investigate the massacre in Houla for example were trained by the United Kingdom.’
Hague also suggested that the new UN envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, had a ‘difficult job.’ Brahimi, the former Algerian foreign minister, has been chosen to replace Kofi Annan by the United Nations and the Arab League to try to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis.