POLITICS

Syrian Rebels Should Not Be Armed, Poll Of Americans Finds

02/05/2013 14:22 BST

Only 12 per cent of Americans back arming the Syrian opposition movement a new poll has found, after President Obama suggested he would consider intervening in the civil war.

A new HuffPost/YouGov poll found that only 5 per cent would support the United States deploying ground troops to Syria, while 68 percent said they were opposed.

And 51 per cent of those asked opposed arming the opposition fighters battling President Assad's regime, compared to just 12 per cent who supported it.

Western airstrikes also only garnered the support of 16 per cent, with 49 per cent opposed. The figures showed the widespread opposition to US intervention in Syria crossed party lines, with Republicans, Democrats and independents largely in agreement.

On Tuesday, Obama strongly suggested he would order military action against Syria if it was proved Assad's government had used chemical weapons against the opposition.

Asked what action he would take, Obama said: "We would have to rethink the range of options that are available to us. Obviously there are options to me that are on the shelf right now that we have not deployed."

A separate YouGov poll conducted in March found that Britons were similarly opposed to getting further involved in the conflict, with 57 per cent against arming the rebels and only 16 per cent in favour.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll comes amid reports government forces have pushed into the centre of Homs, Syria's third largest city, in order to cleanse it of rebel forces.

David Cameron and French president Francois Hollande recently tried and failed to persuade the European Union to lift its arms embargo on Syria in order to allow the UK and France to supply the opposition with arms.

Last week Tory Mp Richard Ottoway, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee, said he believed the British government intended to unilaterally supply weapons to the opposition.

“The obvious next step is to arm the rebels. I think [foreign secretary] William Hague will take a decision and he is going to tell Parliament that is what we are doing,” he said.

Sir Mark Lyall Grant, Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, recently warned that 10 million people, almost half the population, would be need to rely on foreign food aid by the end of the year.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted April 29-30 among 1,000 adults.