cbc.ca (© Copyright: (C) Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, http://www.cbc.ca/aboutcbc/discover/termsofuse.html#Rss)
Updated: Wed, 28 Aug 2013 14:57:16 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Syrian opposition meeting with John Baird today



Syrian opposition meeting with John Baird today

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is set to meet with the head of the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) this afternoon in Montreal, amid intensifying talk of possible military strikes on Syria.

Baird and SNC president George Sabra will meet and then take questions from reporters at 3:15 p.m. ET. CBC News will carry the news conference live.

- Check for the latest updates on the crisis in Syria

- Syria chemical attack killed hundreds, UN envoy says

- Harper and Obama want 'firm response' to Syria attack

Andrew MacDougall, director of communications to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, repeated Tuesday that it is "premature to discuss roles" that Canada could play in an eventual military operation.

Baird said earlier this week that Canada is "incredibly outraged" by a chemical weapons attack on Syrians last week. He has said the idea that the attack could have been perpetrated by rebel fighters is "patently ridiculous," although he said the only way to end the bloodshed is through a political solution.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for Baird confirmed that the cabinet minister has spoken to NDP and Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.

Sabra, whose coalition is based in Istanbul, Turkey, has been meeting members of the Syrian-Canadian community in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto since late last week.

Sabra and Baird, however, don't appear to agree on how to end the bloodshed in the war-torn country.

In contrast to Baird, Sabra said he no longer believes a political solution is possible, when so many Syrians have been killed or forced from their homes.

"We have one million children living in refugee camps," Sabra told The Canadian Press in an interview Saturday.

"In this environment, who can talk about a political solution?"

Sabra said he wants to see action from U.S. President Barack Obama, who has said he considers chemical weapons a "red line" in the conflict. But he said Canada should also play a larger role.

"When we think about Canada, we think about human rights. We expect a special role from Canada in this field," Sabra said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter on Wednesday that the country will submit a resolution Wednesday calling on the UN Security Council to authorize "necessary measures to protect civilians."

His office says military force is one of the options that can be authorized.

"We have always made clear that we want the UN Security Council to live up to its responsibilities on Syria. Today we are giving its permanent members the opportunity to do that," a Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement.

Syria's foreign minister has said any force will be met with force through "all available means."

with files from The Canadian Press and CBC News

more video