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Saudis send equipment to Syria rebels: diplomat

DUBAI--Saudi Arabia is delivering military equipment to Syrian rebels in an effort to stop bloodshed by President Bashar al-Assad's regime, a top Arab diplomat said on Saturday.

“Saudi military equipment is on its way to Jordan to arm the Free Syrian Army,” the diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“This is a Saudi initiative to stop the massacres in Syria,” he added saying further “details will follow at a later time.”

The announcement came two days after the kingdom said it had shut down its embassy in Syria and withdrawn all its staff.

Riyadh has taken a strong stance against the escalating bloodshed and, along with its five Gulf Cooperation Council partners, expelled Syrian envoys last month and withdrew their own over the “mass slaughter” of civilians.

Earlier this month, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal publicly defended the right of the Syrian opposition to arm itself.

“It is the right of the Syrians to arm themselves in order to defend themselves. Weapons used to target homes are used in wars with enemies,” he said.

King Abdullah had also previously called for “critical measures” to be taken on Syria, warning of an impending “humanitarian disaster.”

Last week, Syrian Information Minister Adnan Mahmoud told AFP Saudi Arabia and Qatar were backing “armed terrorist gangs” operating in the country and are therefore responsible for the resulting bloodshed.

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