DOHA, Qatar – Qatar's prime minister says his country is not arming Syrian rebels, but opposition groups must be able to defend themselves against President Bashar Assad's regime if cease-fire efforts fail.
The comments by Sheik Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani addressed only Qatar's role and not its Gulf neighbors that have pledged to help the anti-Assad forces, such as Saudi Arabia.
It suggested possible hesitation by Gulf Arab states to directly aid rebel groups while international envoy Kofi Annan is trying to negotiate an end to Syria's bloody yearlong conflict.
Annan was in Qatar on Tuesday to brief Arab League officials on Syria.
Sheik Hamad accused Assad's government of not making serious attempts to comply with the cease-fire plan.