France considers arming Syrian rebels

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has raised the prospect of sending "defensive weapons" to Syria's rebels.

Foreign minister says 'question of defensive arms will be raised' with European Union

Syrian rebel snipers aim at Syrian army positions on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria Wednesday. France has said it will ask the European Union to raise an embargo so it can send 'defensive arms' to rebel forces. (Khalil Hamra/The Associated Press)

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has raised the prospect of sending "defensive weapons" to Syria's rebels.

Fabius said Thursday his country will ask the European Union to consider lifting the arms embargo regarding Syria.

He said, "We must not militarize the conflict" in Syria, "but it's obviously unacceptable that there are liberated zones and they're bombed" by the regime of Bashar Assad.

In an interview with RTL radio, the minister said "the question of defensive arms will be raised," without providing details about what such arms would be.

"We must find the right balance," he said.

France quickly recognized a new opposition coalition formed Sunday as the Syrian people's sole representative — the first Western nation to do so.

Russia calls move 'gross violation' of international law

Providing assistance to Syrian opposition fighters would breach international law, Russia warned Thursday.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told a briefing Thursday that any foreign help to the opposition fighting President Bashar Assad's government would represent a "gross violation" of basic principles of international law.

He specifically cited a 1970 United Nations document saying that no country should help or finance military action aimed at the violent overthrowing of a foreign government.

Syrian men from the town of Ras al-Ain shout slogans after crossing border fences in the border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province Wednesday. A Syrian warplane bombed the town of Ras al-Ain near the Turkish border for a third day as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad pressed an air assault to dislodge rebels. (Stringer/Reuters)

He added that the opposition's refusal to hold talks with Assad would "strengthen positions of extremists."

France on Tuesday became the first Western nation to recognize a revamped Syrian opposition leadership as the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

Russia has been a key supporter and ally of Assad's government, joining forces with China at the U.N. to veto sanctions against Syria over its crackdown on an uprising that has killed more than 36,000 people since it began in March 2011.

Lukashevich said Russia will continue its contacts with both the government and the opposition to encourage them to sit down for talks.

"There is no alternative to an inclusive dialogue without any foreign interference," he said.