France backs the creation of humanitarian corridors in Syria and considers the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) a legitimate partner with which it wants to work, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Wednesday.
After meeting SNC leader Burhan Ghaliun in Paris Juppe said he would take to Brussels the idea of escape routes for civilians fleeing Assad's forces.
“If there could be a humanitarian dimension to the zones, which could be secured to protect the population, that's a question that must be studied,” Juppe said, adding that he considered Ghaliun's Syrian National Council (SNC) a “legitimate interlocutor.”
Juppe’s comments came as the European Union is also said it was ready to engage with the SNC and other opposition groups, a spokesman for the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.
“The EU stands ready to engage with the Syrian National Council and other representative members of the opposition who adhere to non-violence and democratic values,” spokesman Michael Mann told Reuters news agency.
Mann said that the foreign policy chief Ashton had met on Tuesday with leaders of the Syrian National Council.
“During the meeting she stressed the importance of the opposition maintaining a clear commitment to a peaceful and non-sectarian approach,”
A total of 15 civilians were killed on Wednesday by Syrian security forces across the country today, according to the Syrian Revolutionary Council.
The United Nations says the conflict in Syria has claimed more than 3,500 lives, mostly civilians, since the protests against the embattled President Bashar al-Assad erupted in mid-March.
The SNC, headed by Paris-based Ghaliun, is one of at least four Syrian opposition movements, but is seen as the most representative and claims to speak for activists both inside and outside the country.
Speaking to reporters after a joint news conference with Juppe, Ghaliun said the Syrian National Council did not want to see the fledgling Free Syrian Army, an armed rebel group, take the fight directly to the regime's far superior forces.
“We would like this army to carry out defensive actions to protect those who have left the (regime's) army and peaceful demonstrations, but not take on offensive actions against the army,” he said.
Syria's official SANA news agency on Wednesday reported the funeral of nine soldiers, members of the security services and police in Homs, Daraa in the south and suburbs of the Syrian capital.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called for Assad to go, branding his onetime personal friend a coward and warning he risked the same fate as dictators who met bloody deaths.
But China criticized a U.N. human rights resolution condemning Assad's regime over its deadly crackdown on dissent.
“Using a resolution to pressure other countries is counterproductive to easing the situation,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said.