(AP) – Here are the main developments in the Syria crisis:
_ A day after the EU allows individual member states to send arms to Syrian rebels, British Foreign Secretary William Hague says his country won’t do so until diplomacy has been given a chance. The U.S. and Russia are trying to launch Syria peace talks at a conference in Geneva, possibly next month. Britain and France pushed for lifting the EU arms embargo because they believe a threat to arm the rebels can be used to get Syrian President Bashar Assad to negotiate in Geneva in good faith.
_ Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says the EU’s decision is illegitimate and undermines the idea of the Geneva conference.
_ Syria’s Foreign Ministry says the EU decision makes a mockery of international efforts to reach a political solution.
_ U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell says Washington welcomes the EU decision as a show of support for the Syrian opposition and as a message to the Assad regime that such support will only grow. He says the Obama administration will continue to provide non-lethal assistance to the rebels but hasn’t made a decision on whether to arm them.
_ Russia’s deputy foreign minister says Moscow won’t abandon plans to sell advanced S-300 anti-missile defense systems to Syria. It is not clear if Russia has already sent any of the missiles, which would boost for Syria’s air defense capabilities, including against neighboring countries that oppose Assad’s regime.
_ Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon suggests Israel would be prepared to attack such missile shipments, saying they pose a threat and that the Israeli military “will know what to do” if they are delivered. Earlier this month, Israeli airstrikes hit suspected shipments of Iranian missiles in Syria that were purportedly intended for Assad ally Hezbollah, a Lebanese militia.
_ Britain and Russia trade accusations of hypocrisy over the potential weapons shipments.
_ The State Department condemns Moscow’s decision.
_ Gen. Salim Idris, the commander of the main Western-backed umbrella group of rebel brigades, tells The Associated Press he urgently needs Western anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to prevent further regime gains on the battlefield. He says he is disappointed by the EU’s apparent decision not to send weapons, if at all, until after the Geneva conference.
_ Idris says his fighters could lose control of the strategic town of Qusair in western Syrian in coming days unless he gets weapons quickly. He says thousands of Hezbollah fighters are participating in an offensive against Qusair that began May 19, and that his fighters are outnumbered by more than 3 to 1.
_ Gunmen kill three Lebanese soldiers in a drive-by shooting at a government checkpoint near the Syrian border. Sectarian clashes tied to Syria’s war have broken out with increasing regularity in Lebanon, while rockets fired from across the frontier have struck Lebanese border villages. Lebanon’s president says the attack is meant to “sow civil strife” in Lebanon.
_ Idris says Hezbollah has sent thousands of gunmen from Lebanon to Syria to fight alongside Assad’s forces and now poses the main threat to the rebels. He says the international community must stop the influx of Hezbollah fighters. He says that if Hezbollah is not kept out of Syria, rebel fighters may well start attacking Hezbollah bases in Lebanon, overriding his standing order.
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