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Spain says it now favors sending *defense material* to Syrian rebels

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    Mouaz al-Khatib, former chief of the Syrian National Coalition, left, shakes hands with Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo on his arrival at the foreign ministry in Madrid, Spain Tuesday May 21, 2013. Syrian opposition groups meeting in Spain say they oppose all negotiation with President Bashar Assad's government unless it is aimed at his giving up of power. Some 80 opposition representatives from inside and outside the country concluded a two-day meeting Tuesday, saying Assad would neither form part of any transition government nor have any role in Syria's future. (AP Photo/Paul White) (The Associated Press)

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    Mouaz al-Khatib, former chief of the Syrian National Coalition speaks during a news conference at the foreign ministry in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday May 21, 2013. Syrian opposition groups meeting in Spain say they oppose all negotiation with President Bashar Assad's government unless it is aimed at his giving up of power. Some 80 opposition representatives from inside and outside the country concluded a two-day meeting Tuesday, saying Assad would neither form part of any transition government nor have any role in Syria's future. (AP Photo/Paul White) (The Associated Press)

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    Mouaz al-Khatib, former chief of the Syrian National Coalition, rear left, walks with Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, rear right, on their way to give a joint news conference at the foreign ministry in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday May 21, 2013. Syrian opposition groups meeting in Spain say they oppose all negotiation with President Bashar Assad's government unless it is aimed at his giving up of power. Some 80 opposition representatives from inside and outside the country concluded a two-day meeting Tuesday, saying Assad would neither form part of any transition government nor have any role in Syria's future. (AP Photo/Paul White) (The Associated Press)

  • 840fe68b07997d11320f6a7067004f70.jpg

    Mouaz al-Khatib, former chief of the Syrian National Coalition speaks with Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, unseen, after a news conference at the foreign ministry in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday May 21, 2013. Syrian opposition groups meeting in Spain say they oppose all negotiation with President Bashar Assad's government unless it is aimed at his giving up of power. Some 80 opposition representatives from inside and outside the country concluded a two-day meeting Tuesday, saying Assad would neither form part of any transition government nor have any role in Syria's future. (AP Photo/Paul White) (The Associated Press)

Spain says it favors a partial lifting of sanctions against Syria that would allow the delivery of "defense material" that could include arms to help protect the population.

To date, Spain has defended sending only non-lethal aid. Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo said Tuesday Spain's position was "changing with the evolution of circumstance on the ground."

The ministry says the material could include arms but stressed that it was for defense.

European Union foreign ministers are to meet May 27 to decide on whether to lift the sanctions, which expire June 1. Britain and France also favor arming the rebels.

Margallo was speaking alongside Syria opposition leader Mouaz al-Khatib, who called on the international community to decide whether or not it will help bring an end to the Arab state's civil war.