Armed and masked Syrian rebels
Armed and masked Syrian rebels Israel news screenshot: SamSNN rebel video

The United States on Tuesday recognized the newly formed coalition of Syrian rebel groups as the “legitimate representative” of the Syrian people. Speaking to reporters, State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner told reporters that as far as the U.S. was concerned, the rebel coalition group “does reflect the Syrian people... that diverse group of Syrian people. We now have a structure in place that can prepare for a political transition, but... we're looking for it to still establish the types of technical committees that will allow us to make sure our assistance gets to the right places.”

With that, Toner stopped short of calling the group, officially named The Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces, a “government in exile.”

The rebel groups declared Sunday that they would work together to unseat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Analysts said that the groups agreed to form the coalition, despite having different agendas, in order to encourage greater international pressure on Assad, and to make it easier for the rebel groups to receive aid.

Going even further than the U.S. Tuesday was France, which, French President Francois Hollande said, would be considered by Paris as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people – in essence, a government in exile. If more countries do so as well, Hollande said, France will consider sending weapons to the group.

On Monday, the Arab League passed a resolution recognizing the group as representing the “aspirations of the Syrian people,” and called on other countries to support the rebels “politically and materially.”

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