Saudi Arabia denies accusation of arming Syrian rebels

Jeddah: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday rejected Syrian accusations of arming rebels against the government and said that Saudi government has never given “one single arm” to Syrian opposition fighters.

A senior Saudi official on the condition of anonymity told media that the Kingdom does not work in the shadow; it works within legitimate frameworks and not unilaterally. Saudi Arabia is keen on taking steps within the Gulf Cooperation Council or the Arab League.

“Everyone has to understand that the crisis is not a Saudi-Syria crisis; it is important that everyone understands this,” he added.

In a joint conference with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last month, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said it was a “duty” to arm the Syrian opposition and help them defend themselves against the daily bloody crackdown by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

“The arming of the opposition is a duty, I think, because it cannot defend itself except with weapons,” Faisal said during a joint news conference with Clinton.

The Saudi source said there is a difference between calling for the opposition to be armed so that it can protect civilians and actually arming them. Saudi Arabia calls for arming members of the Syrian Free Army, but it never gave them weapons, the source said.

The United States and Gulf Arab states have urged U.N. envoy Kofi Annan to produce a “timeline for next steps” in his peace plan for Syria if President Assad fails to stop the bloodshed.

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