US Recognizes Syria Rebels

President Obama gives blessing to opposition coalition

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 11, 2012 6:29 PM CST

(Newser) – The US will formally recognize Syria's opposition as the country's legitimate representative, Barack Obama announced today in an interview with Barbara Walters on ABC. "It's a big step," Obama said. "We've made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population" to be recognized. The move allows the US to work more closely with the rebels, and opens up the possibility of sending them weapons—though one official said that wasn't in the cards yet.

"Not everybody who is participating on the ground in fighting Assad are people that we are comfortable with," Obama added. "There are some who I think have adopted an extremist agenda." The announcement comes just ahead of a meeting of Syrian opposition leaders and their supporters in Morocco, the New York Times observes. It also notes that the move doesn't fully confer the legal authority of a state; the opposition can't, for example, access Syrian government money or take over the regime's Washington embassy.

Free Syrian Army fighters look at a Syrian Army jet, not pictured, in Fafeen village, north of Aleppo province, Syria, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012.
Free Syrian Army fighters look at a Syrian Army jet, not pictured, in Fafeen village, north of Aleppo province, Syria, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012.   (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)
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