FOREIGN ministers from the G8 nations have warned Syria that using chemical weapons would trigger a global response, and said they were appalled by the humanitarian toll of the country's conflict.
William Hague, the UK foreign secretary, said the meeting in London had failed to close the gap between Russia and the West over Moscow's support for the Assad regime. Mr Hague said the world continued to fail in its responsibilities to respond to a crisis that was on track to be the worst humanitarian disaster of this century, but said the G8 gathering had agreed unspecified humanitarian assistance to the four million Syrians that need emergency aid.
"They (the foreign ministers) were appalled that more than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict and that there are now more than a million Syrian refugees registered in neighbouring countries and more than two million internally displaced persons in Syria," the G8 said in a statement yesterday.
"They called on all countries to join with them in maximising their contributions to the latest UN appeals and to provide them with direct support in order to help them face this challenging situation."
With Damascus refusing to grant access to a United Nations mission to investigate a chemical weapons attack near Homs last month, the gathering issued a stern warning.
"The ministers condemned the ongoing use of heavy weapons against residential areas and reaffirm their view that any use of chemical weapons would demand a serious international response," the statement said.
Mr Hague said that Britain, France and America had separately decided to give more battlefield support to the Syrian rebels. He warned that a European Union arms embargo on supplying weapons to Syria, which has prevented the West from arming moderate elements of the opposition, should be "seriously amended". The US and EU are currently supplying only non-lethal aid.
"Syria is now the number one destination for jihadists worldwide," Mr Hague said.
"In our talks with the opposition we stressed how important it is that assistance cannot be diverted to extremists or end up in the wrong hands."
Syria issued a letter to the UN demanding it places one of the main rebel groups, Jabhat al-Nusra, on the proscribed list of terrorist groups linked to al-Qa'ida. The al-Nusra leadership has declared its allegiance to the Qa'ida leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. (© Daily Telegraph, London)