Syria calls arming rebels ‘dangerous’

DAMASCUS — The decision by the United States and its allies to arm rebel groups in Syria is ‘‘very dangerous’’ and will prolong the violence and killing, Syria’s foreign minister said Monday.

The warning came as an artillery shell slammed into a village in central Syria and killed 11 people, including a woman and six of her children, activists said, and a leading human rights group charged that Syrian forces are abusing women in custody for supporting the opposition to President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Walid al-Moallem said sending more weapons to the opposition would also hinder efforts to convene a peace conference in Geneva to work on a negotiated solution. He said his country remains ready to take part but added that Assad will not step down. His resignation is a key opposition demand to be raised in talks with Damascus.


Moallem spoke two days after an 11-nation group that includes the United States met in Qatar and agreed to step up military and other assistance to the Syrian rebels. He said all those who met in Qatar ‘‘have Syrian blood on their hands.’’

US Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who took part in the conference, would not disclose the aid details, saying only that it would rebalance the fight between the rebels and the government. Assad’s forces are increasingly backed by fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group.