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'All options' open for Syria, Britain says

Jan. 10, 2013 at 12:04 PM

LONDON, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- "All options are on the table" to support opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad and end the bloodshed, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

Assad last weekend said fighting in the country would stop once foreign support for an armed opposition ends. The U.S. State Department said the speech showed that Assad has lost touch with the reality on the ground.

International support for an opposition council formed in Qatar late last year is growing as civil war descends on Damascus. Hague said, with an estimated 60,000 dead as a result of the fighting, the best way forward for the country was through political transition.

"We will continue our work to help the Syrian National Coalition develop its plans for the future of Syria," he said in an address to the British Parliament.

The British government was one of the first to recognize the legitimacy of the opposition council. Hague said his government was committing another $3.2 million in non-lethal aid to the opposition and its supporters.

NATO forces have deployed Patriot missiles along the Turkish border with Syria to defend its allies in Ankara. NATO leaders said there's no plan for a no-fly zone over Syria.

Hague, however, said the brutality of the regime suggests there's a serious risk that the conflict will grow more severe in the coming months.

"We must keep open options to help save lives in Syria and to assist opposition groups opposed to extremism if the violence continues," he said in his address. "We should send a strong signal to Assad that all options are on the table."

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