Britain to talk to Syria opposition military figures

Wed Nov 7, 2012 12:01am GMT

* Contacts aimed at bolstering opposition unity

* Britain not to be giving military guidance

By Mohammed Abbas

AMMAN, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Britain will begin contacts with Syrian opposition military figures to help unite the fragmented rebel movement to oust President Bashar al-Assad, British officials said on Wednesday.

Foreign Secretary William Hague will announce the effort later on Wednesday, the same day Prime Minister David Cameron will meet Syrian refugees in Jordan, the prime minister's office said.

An aide to Cameron said the move was intended to help unite the opposition and also was an acknowledgement that a protracted conflict had taken hold in Syria. However, British officials will not be giving military guidance.

"He (Hague) has authorised diplomats to have direct contact with military figures on the ground in order to better understand the actual situation and the relationship between political and armed opposition groups," Cameron's office said in a statement.

"This increased contact with the opposition reflects the reality that these groups are increasingly dictating events in Syria," the statement added.

Cameron will visit a camp for Syrian refugees at the end of a trade and diplomacy trip to the Middle East that has also included the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, and is expected to announce 14 million pounds ($22.4 million) in aid.   Continued...

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