Britain will increase support for Syrian opposition forces, William Hague said today as he warned the resignation of peace envoy Kofi Annan was a "bleak moment" in efforts to end the bloodshed.
The Foreign Secretary insisted the diplomatic approach was not dead and defended the UK's efforts to secure international agreement, but accepted "other things" also needed to be done.
"Given the scale of death and suffering and the failure so far of the diplomatic process we will, over the coming weeks, increase our practical but non-lethal support,"
"It will not involve sending armaments."
Asked about reports that US President Barack Obama has authorised the CIA to aid the opposition forces, Mr Hague declined to comment on any potential involvement of UK intelligence.
"I do not ever comment on intelligence matters but I can say that we are helping elements of the Syrian opposition, but in a practical and non-lethal way," he said.
"We have helped them with communications and matters of that kind, and we will help them more."
Mr Annan cited "finger-pointing and name-calling" in the 15-nation UN Security Council as one of the reasons for his decision to step down.
Russia and China have blocked British-backed resolutions in the Security Council to threaten the Assad regime with global sanctions if it fails to halt the bloodshed in the 17-month uprising.
There was little sign of progress on the issue in Downing Street talks between Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday.
The two leaders said only that Moscow and London would continue dialogue.
Mr Cameron urged the UN to "ramp up" pressure on the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and said that Mr Annan's resignation showed his plan for a ceasefire to pave the way for talks on a political settlement had not worked.
Mr Hague said his departure should not, however, halt efforts to secure agreement.
He added: "It is not dead but you are quite right to say it is a bleak moment not only for the people of Syria but for our diplomatic efforts. Diplomacy has so far failed the people of Syria.
"We do not give up on the diplomacy with Russia and with China; we will keep going with that as long as this situation continues but we will have to do other things as well."
He denied the UK was among those who had failed Mr Annan.
Mr Hague said: "We have really been trying to give him the backing he needs and have often bent over backwards to reach agreement with Russia and China on this.
"Do we disagree with Russia and China? Yes, on this point...that we believe it is not only necessary to press for the plan that Kofi Annan put forward - and it will continue to be necessary even without Kofi Annan to do that - but that the Security Council needs to back that up with the threat of consequences."
The 193-member UN General Assembly is expected to approve a resolution today denouncing the use of major military hardware against opposition forces and demanding chemical and biological weapons not be deployed.
But the text tabled by Saudi Arabia has been stripped of calls for the resignation of Mr Assad and for wider sanctions amid pressure from countries such as Russia, which said it was "unbalanced".