Obama: U.S. now recognizes Syrian opposition coalition

WASHINGTON Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:55pm EST

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WASHINGTON Dec 11 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that the United States now recognizes a newly formed coalition of Syrian opposition groups, a move aimed at ratcheting up pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"We've made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population, that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime," Obama said in an interview with Barbara Walters of ABC News.

The move, which was widely expected, could give new international legitimacy to the rebels fighting to overthrow Assad, but stops short of authorizing U.S. arming of the opposition, something Obama has steadfastly refused to do.

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