(PARIS) — To assist opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, France is now urging the European Union to lift an arms embargo.
The request Thursday came directly from French President Francois Hollande who said, “We are ready to support the rebellion, so we are ready to go this far. We must take our responsibilities.”
Hollande maintained that al-Assad is refusing to allow a political transition after two years of an increasingly bloody conflict that has cost more than 70,000 lives and threatens to further destabilize the Middle East.
France now joins Britain in calling for an end to the arms embargo, which must be renewed by the EU every three months.
However, with the next vote coming in May, Hollande wants his European partners to decide on the issue before the end of this month.
An open supply line of European aircraft and other hardware could be a potential game changer for rebel forces in Syria, who have pleaded with the international community to provide them with arms to defeat government forces.
France and Britain believes that if al-Assad understands he cannot win a military victory, he will have to negotiate a settlement to end the conflict and perhaps, relinquish power.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Larry Register, CNN
Joe Sterling and Cassandra Santiago, CNN
Laura Goehler, CNN
Steve Almasy, Ray Sanchez and Darran Simon, CNN