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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 18 April, 2014

Seán Crowe says Syrian conflict “can be resolved”

The Sinn Féin TD met with a representative of a main Christian community in Syria yesterday, who said the conflict as not simple as it is being portrayed by elements of international media.

Image: Sinn Féin Press Office

SINN FÉIN’S Seán Crowe has today said that the ongoing Syrian conflict “can be resolved” despite the problem being “very complex”.

Crowe met yesterday with Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross, a member of the Melkites – one of the main Christian communities in Syria. He relayed her message that the conflict was “not simple as it is being portrayed by elements of international media”.

“It is good to hear from an independent Syrian voice with a perspective that we are not hearing from international media. The situation in that country is clearly very complex and the simplistic scenario of  ’bad government, good rebels’ does not reflect its reality,” he said.

“Any analysis of the war in Syria needs to take account of the position of civilian the population and minority groups who are caught in the middle of this war.”

Mother Agnes met politicians in Leinster House yesterday as part of week-long visit to Dublin and Belfast, during which she will give eyewitness reports on the crisis and emphasise the possibility of a peaceful resolution.

Deputy Crowe stressed the need for the Irish Government to arrange aid and support for the civilian population of Syria.

“(The Government) can play a role in helping the Syrian people by helping broker a peaceful settlement to a conflict that is in danger of spiralling out of control and they should give every possible support to the reconciliation efforts of people like Mother Agnes Mariam,” he said.

UK aid

Meanwhile, Britain’s government announced it is giving an extra £5 million pounds (€6.3 million) worth of aid to Syria’s opposition, supplying items including communications equipment, body armor and medical supplies to groups seeking to oust President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Foreign Secretary William Hague insisted that the UK would only supply equipment to those not directly involved in fighting — and seek to ensure the supplies did not end up in the hands of rebel fighters — and would not provide any weapons. But he declined to identify which individuals and groups would receive the equipment, saying to do that would leave them as likely targets.

Britain has previously given 1.4 million pounds (€.18 million) worth of nonlethal support to Syria’s opposition. The United States has earmarked a fund of $25 million (€20 million) to spend on nonlethal communications assistance.

Human rights activists estimate 20,000 people have died in the conflict, which began in March 2011.

Additional reporting by the AP

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