France recognises new Syria group, first in West
BEIRUT (AP) - France on Tuesday became the first Western country to formally recognise Syria's newly formed opposition coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
The United States (US) also recognised the leadership body announced in Qatar on Sunday as a legitimate representative, but stopped short of describing it as a sole representative, saying the group must first demonstrate its ability to represent Syrians inside the country.
"We look forward to supporting the national coalition as it charts a course for the end of Assad's bloody rule, and marks the start, we believe, of a peaceful, just and democratic future for the people of Syria," said US State Department spokesman Mark Toner in Washington.
Under intense international pressure to form an opposition that includes representatives from the country's disparate factions fighting to topple President Bashar Assad, the anti-government groups struck a deal on Sunday in Doha to form a coalition headed by former Muslim preacher Mouaz al-Khatib.