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Thursday
Mar072013

Britain to Provide Armored Vehicles to Syrian Rebels

Scott Peterson/Getty Images(LONDON) -- While stopping short of offering weapons, Britain has announced its intention to provide non-lethal support to the rebels battling government forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The millions of dollars' worth of support includes armored vehicles, body armor, search and rescue equipment, communications equipment and disease-prevention materials.

Foreign Secretary William Hague told Britain’s Parliament on Wednesday that the aid was a “necessary, proportionate and lawful" response to "extreme human suffering.”

Hague told Parliament the Syrian people were in “dire need” of help and the U.K. could not “look the other way” in the face of the escalating humanitarian crisis.

United Nations figures show two million people have been internally displaced, while another 400,000 have fled abroad since the start of this year.

Some members of Parliament expressed concern that Britain might be drifting towards military intervention in Syria.

Hague stated, “No Western government is advocating military intervention of Western nations into the conflict in Syria.  The discussion is entirely focused on the degree of assistance that can and should be delivered to the opposition.”

Still, he refused to rule out the possibility of military intervention in the future.

“In our view, if a political solution to the crisis in Syria is not found and the conflict continues, we and the rest of the E.U. will have to be ready to move further, and we should not rule out any option for saving lives,” Hague told Parliament.

The leader of the Free Syrian Army, Gen. Salim Idriss, who defected from forces loyal to Assad last year, told the BBC that opposition forces desperately needed weapons and ammunition.  He called on the European Union to lift its current arms embargo

The two-year-long conflict has claimed some 70,000 lives.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio