Paris: France's foreign minister threw cold water on Thursday on weapons requests by the Syrian rebel forces, saying arming the Syrian opposition could lead to catastrophic civil war.

The Syrian opposition is divided as it marks one year since their uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime, and diplomatic efforts to end fighting that has killed at least 7,500 people appear to be stalling. Rebel forces are asking for new weapons after defeats by government troops.

France, Syria's former colonial ruler, is backing the opposition against Assad and pushing for Assad's departure, but is wary of getting embroiled in a new conflict after its leading role in the NATO-led airstrikes on Libya.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe says arming the opposition could lead to "a catastrophe even larger than the one that exists today."

"The Syrian people are deeply divided, and if we give arms to a certain faction of the Syrian opposition, we would make a civil war among Christians, Alawites, Sunnis and Shiites," Juppe said on France-Culture radio on Thursday.

After two significant defeats at the hands of Syrian government troops, the country's rebel forces are low on cash and running out of weapons.

"Send us money, we're desperate. Send us weapons," Ahmad Kassem, who coordinates military operations for the rebel Free Syrian Army said.

(Agencies)