30/08/2012 18:13 BST | Updated 31/08/2012 10:00 BST

Syria Crisis: Britain 'Doing All It Can' To Help Civilians Insists William Hague

Britain is doing all it can to help people caught up in the Syrian uprising but will not send weapons to the rebels fighting President Assad's regime, the Foreign Secretary has said.

William Hague added that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has "failed" to successfully address the conflict in Syria, which continues to see daily fighting.


Hague is in New York to attend a UNSC meeting on the situation in Syria.

"In the absence of an overall solution to the Syrian crisis, we are doing everything we can to save lives and help people caught up in this crisis. That is really what is happening here today," Mr Hague told Sky News.

"There many people in the opposition groups in Syria who are very grateful for the help we are providing from the United Kingdom and we would not provide it if they didn't want it.

"It is not our policy to send weapons into a zone of conflict. We help more than many nations in the world but it has not been our approach in any of these conflicts in the Middle East to send weapons, partly because we would not be able to be sure what would happen to those weapons.

"I'm not offering them lethal assistance but we are offering a great deal of other assistance which is helping tens of thousands of people, with food, with medical care, in refugee camps, with water purification, and with communications, and this is very valuable help."

syria children

Children pass by a body outside a hospital in Syria's northern city of Aleppo

Speaking later to the BBC Radio 4 PM programme, Mr Hague said "there would come a point" when the opposition in Syria was sufficiently coherent and organised to be recognised by foreign powers.

The minister's comments follow moves by French President Francois Hollande, who urged the rebel groups to form a provisional alternative government, pledging that France would give it official recognition.

Mr Hague said: "It has to be when we can actually say there is some real meaning, some real truth, in there being a provisional government and I can't set a timescale.

"There are many opposition groups, many of them are strong, many of them are very good, but they need in this desperate crisis for the nation to be able to pursue a common programme, even if it is only until an election they held, they need to be able to show they have a lot of support for themselves within Syria.

"We will know it when we see it."