Hague Pledges Aid for Syria Rebels, Attacks ‘Delusional’ Assad

U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague said he will this week announce further direct assistance for Syrian rebels and denounced President Bashar al-Assad as “delusional.”

“We’ll be doing more and we have to steadily do more if there’s no diplomatic or political breakthrough,” Hague told BBC Television’s “Andrew Marr Show” today. “The situation in Syria now is too dangerous to the peace and security of that entire region to ignore it.”

Britain and the U.S. are among international backers of the opposition in Syria who are pushing for an end to a conflict that began almost two years ago and that the United Nations estimates has left more than 70,000 people dead. The U.S. is providing support to rebel fighters for the first time including medical equipment and food as well as $60 million for the National Coalition.

Hague said that while the package announced to parliament this week includes non-lethal equipment to help save lives, he didn’t rule out sending weapons. “I don’t rule out anything for the future if this is going to go on for months or years, and more tens of thousands of people are going to die,” he said.

Hague attacked Assad over a newspaper interview in which the Syrian president criticized Britain. He said that while Assad was presiding over the “slaughter” of his own people, Britain was sending humanitarian aid.

“This will go down as one of the most delusional interviews that any national leader has given in modern times,” Hague said.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Assad accused the British government of being ‘naive, confused and unrealistic” in its approach to the conflict in his country and warned of dire consequences if the West armed its rebels.

“To be frank, Britain has played a famously unconstructive role in our region on different issues for decades, some say for centuries,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Atkinson in London at a.atkinson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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