British Foreign Minister William Hague (centre) speaks to reporters during a visit to the Bashabsha refugee camp
British Foreign Minister William Hague (centre) speaks to reporters during a visit to the Bashabsha refugee camp, near the Jordanian city of Ramtha. Hague said the crisis in Syria is too unpredictable to rule out "any option," insisting that a Chapter VII resolution of the US Security Council is needed. © Khalil Mazraawi - AFP
British Foreign Minister William Hague (centre) speaks to reporters during a visit to the Bashabsha refugee camp
Musa Hattar, AFP
Last updated: July 17, 2012

British FM says all options open on Syria

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Tuesday the crisis in Syria is too unpredictable to rule out "any option," insisting that a Chapter VII resolution of the US Security Council is needed.

"The situation (in Syria) is so grave and so unpredictable that I do not think any option should be ruled out in the future," Hague said in Amman at a joint news conference with his Jordanian counterpart, Nasser Judeh.

"Clearly, we have failed so far. The process that (peace envoy) Kofi Annan has launched has failed so far to bring about a peaceful political process and so now we need the Security Council to greatly strengthen the pressure for that to happen."

Britain, France, United States, Germany and Portugal want a resolution adopted at the Security Council that includes the threat of sanctions if the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad does not halt the use of heavy weapons in compliance with a six-point UN-backed peace plan.

Hague urged Russia and China to "take greater note of the scale of the bloodshed and the need to bring it to an end and the desperate situation of the sort of people that we met at the Syrian border today."

Earlier Tuesday, Hague and Judeh met with Syrian refugees in the border town of Ramtha, where the British minister slammed the "barbarity and criminality of the Assad regime."

"What we have seen today should leave us in no doubt at all that a Chapter VII resolution is required," Hague told the press conference.

Chapter VII of the UN charter allows for punitive measures against regimes considered a threat to world peace, including economic sanctions and military intervention.

Hague added that this is "to mandate the implementation of Annan's peace plan and a transitional government in Syria with a peaceful political process and to bring about the imposition of globally agreed sanctions on those who obstruct the implementation of that plan."

During a tour of Ramtha's Bashabsheh housing complex, a military-guarded compound that houses around 1,000 Syrian refugees, one of them told the British top diplomat that "we just want you to get rid of Bashar."

Hague replied: "Is that what you all would recommend?"

One man answered: "Yes sir please." Another refugee snapped: "If you do not want to take a military act against the regime, give us weapons and the Syrians will fight."

Hague described the deadly violence in Syria as "horrible."

"It is horrible to hear the accounts of what is happening (in Syria) from people here, many of them coming from close by over the borders," said Hague, the most senior British official to visit the refugees in Jordan.

The news reports that are coming out of Syria, "assure the barbarity and criminality of the Assad regime."

"The horrors of the crimes committed by Assad are clearly on display when you talk to people just over the borders from Syria," he told reporters.

And he said his country was training human rights activists to document abuses in Syria.

"We have trained 47 activists. We will train 20 more to document human rights abuses that are being committed and we are also giving help to people through (UN refuges agency) UNHCR to help pay for accommodation, water, food, sanitation," he said. He did not elaborate.

Jordan is hosting more than 140,000 Syrians, many of whom are living with relatives in Ramtha, and is building several refugee camps for them. More than 27,344 of the refugees are registered with the United Nations.

"For the past few days, we have been receiving 700 Syrians a day," Kamel Deriche, UNHCR assistant representative in Jordan, told AFP.

The diplomats also visited UN offices near the Bashabsheh complex -- which consists of six apartment buildings, tents and huge storage containers -- to examine procedures to register the refugees.

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