With 7,500 dead, is it time to begin arming the Syrian rebels?

Valerie Amos, the UN’s humanitarian chief, arrived in Syria to urge the government of Bashar al-Assad to allow aid into the beseiged town of Homs, but it remained uncleear whether she would be granted access.

The UN estimates that as many as 7,500 people have been killed since the fighting began.

Former US deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz co-wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal that argued for the arming of the Syrian opposition, a move the Obama administration has so far opposed.

“The earlier fear of what might follow an Assad regime was not unreasonable, but that was no reason to let it get away with murder, literally, in Iraq, in Lebanon and at home. Today, there is real reason for concern about what the violence in Syria is doing to the fabric of a society already weakened by decades of dictatorial rule. Yet keeping the opposition weak is a recipe for prolonging the conflict, meaning more people killed, more scores to settle, and more power in the hands of armed fighters.

“Strengthening the Syrian opposition is not an obstacle to a peaceful end to this conflict. To the contrary, it may be the only way to achieve one,” says Wolfowitz, who co-authored the piece with Mark Palmer, former US ambassador to Hungary.

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