A leading Syrian opposition figure slammed the decision of the Friends of Syria meeting to arm Syrian rebels, calling the idea "ridiculous" and saying it will prolong the crisis and give rise to further violence.
"We think that the decision of the Friends of Syria meeting to arm the rebels reflects the Western powers' insistence on prolonging the crisis, the violence and the shedding of the Syrian blood," Hasan Abdul-Azim, head of the oppositional National Coordination Body, told Xinhua on Sunday.
A day earlier, foreign ministers of members of the so-called Friends of Syria group met in Qatar's Doha on the latest developments in Syria, and agreed to further arm Syrian opposition fighters.
In a joint statement, participants of the meeting agreed to "provide urgently all the necessary materials and equipment" to rebels fighting the Syrian armed forces on the ground.
"They can't say that they are arming the opposition to reach a political solution because such talk is ridiculous," said Abdul-Azim, a pan-Arab opponent who rejects the exiled Western-backed opposition groups' agendas.
The meeting "should have [put] more pressure on the armed rebels and the exiled opposition alike to attend the Geneva conference to negotiate for a political solution instead of arming the opposition, because [that] would get us nowhere," he said, urging both backers of the opposition and supporters of the administration of President Bashar Assad to push for a political solution in the Geneva meeting, currently scheduled to take place in July.
While emphasizing that the Syrian government cannot settle the situation on ground with force, Abdul-Azim said the exiled opposition groups, at the same time, do not want the crisis to be settled except by force.
"And that is why they call for more armament," he said.
Western powers have recently revealed their plans to increase help to "moderate" opposition forces to achieve a balance between the two warring sides and push them toward a political solution through negotiations.
After its sweeping victory in the central strategic city of Qusayr, with the help of Lebanon's Hezbollah, the Syrian army is now eyeing the northern province of Aleppo and other areas in central Syria as its next targets to further frustrate the rebels.
The Syrian government charged that the armed groups have been provided with weapons since the beginning of the crisis in early 2011, pledging to root out insurgency and rid the country of Al-Qaeda-linked militants.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer