Syrian lawmaker criticizes EU arms decision

Associated Press
In this photo released on Sunday, May 26, 2013, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad take their position during a clashes against Syrian rebels, in Aleppo, Syria. Syria's Information Ministry says rebels have killed a TV correspondent who was covering clashes near the border with Lebanon. (AP Photo/SANA)

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — A Syrian lawmaker has criticized the EU decision to let the bloc's arms embargo on Syria expire, saying efforts to provide the rebels with weapons will discourage the opposition from seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Essam Khalil, a member of parliament for the ruling Baath Party, says the EU's decision will hinder joint U.S.-Russian efforts to convene a peace conference aimed at bringing members of President Bashar Assad's regime and opposition figures together to seek a negotiated settlement to the 26-month-old conflict.

Khalil's comments Tuesday are the first by a Syrian official since the EU decision late Monday.