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US considers equipping Syria rebels with heavy weapons

The United States is reportedly considering providing heavy weapons to Syrian armed groups after meetings between anti-Damascus rebels and senior US government officials.

Syrian militants have held meetings with senior US officials in Washington and asked for heavy weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, to escalate their fight against the government of President Bashar al-Assad,The Daily Telegraph reported on Friday.

According to the report, a senior representative from the foreign-backed militant group calling itself Free Syrian Army (FSA) reportedly held meetings with the US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, and special coordinator for the Middle East, Frederick Hoff, at the State Department in the past week.

The report revealed that the Syrian rebel representatives have also met with senior members of the US National Security Council.

Meanwhile, France has said that it is considering providing armed groups in Syria with communications equipment to help them overthrow the government.

“There is Annan’s effort, but we are also considering – and the Americans have done this – not giving weapons but providing communications equipment,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Friday.

The UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan, effective from mid-April, calls for the establishment of a ceasefire between the government and the opposition and also says humanitarian groups should be allowed to have access to the population, detainees should be released, and a political dialogue should be started.

Militant groups in Syria have repeatedly requested heavy weapons from their foreign supporters. Many US politicians have also called for arming the anti-government groups in Syria.

The unrest in Syria began in March 2011, with demonstrations being held both against and in support of President Assad’s government.

The West and the Syrian opposition accuse the government of killing protesters, but Damascus blames “outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups” for the unrest, insisting that it is being orchestrated from abroad.

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