Should The West Back Syria's Rebels?

31/07/2012 12:59 BST | Updated 31/07/2012 14:17 BST

As Syria descends into a brutal civil war, with the civilian death toll on the rise and President Bashar al-Assad's security forces and militias accused of war crimes and torture, how much support should the West give to the Syrian rebels?

The members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), for example, have also been accused of human-rights abuses by both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty. Is there an alternative? Or do Western governments have no choice but to back groups such as the FSA if they want to see the back of Assad?

Below Charles Shoebridge and Shashank Joshi, two of Britain's leading security experts, debate whether or not we should back the rebels.