PARIS (AP) — France’s president backed off a push to arm Syrian rebels Thursday amid turmoil within Syria’s opposition and concerns the weapons could fall into extremist hands.
France had been pressuring European Union partners to lift an arms embargo against Syria to be able to provide the rebels with firepower against President Bashar Assad’s military.
But French President Francois Hollande said Thursday night the country won’t deliver weapons until there is “certainty that these arms will be used by legitimate opposition members, and cut off from all terrorist influence.”
He continued, “For now, we don’t have that.”
He urged the Syrian opposition to overcome its divisions so that the international community can better help end two years of bloodshed in Syria and get Assad out of power.