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European Union Talks on Syria May Address Arming Rebels

Friday marks the second anniversary of the uprising in Syria, with a European Union meeting in Brussels that may include a discussion of whether to arm Syrian rebels against government troops.

A European Union embargo currently bars member countries from providing weapons to the Syrian opposition. That embargo ends in May.

Meanwhile, France has said it is ready to work with Britain to help arm Syrian rebels, even if there is no agreement with other nations to send the weapons.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Thursday that France and Britain want the EU to hold an urgent meeting to discuss lifting the embargo, and that the talks could come before the end of the month.

He signaled the two countries were ready to move forward with sending weapons even if other countries do not agree to end the ban.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov condemned talk of arming Syrian rebels, saying the move would be illegal under international law.

Late last month, the United States announced $60 million in extra aid to the Syrian opposition and, for the first time, non-lethal aid to rebel forces. Russia has sold weapons in the past to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Meanwhile, rights group Amnesty International said Thursday that research in the past two weeks shows both Syrian forces and opposition fighters have committed war crimes, and are abusing and killing detainees. It said the "vast majority" of abuses are being done by government fighters, and that those forces are bombing civilians with "internationally banned weapons."

The group's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, Ann Harrison, said the death toll in Syria is rising while the international community remains indecisive.