The United States has formally recognized the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as Syria's legitimate representative, President Barack Obama said in an interview on ABC News Tuesday, The New York Times reported.
“At this point we have a well-organized-enough coalition — opposition coalition that is representative — that we can recognize them as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people,” Obama told Barbara Walters, according to The Times.
The US follows Britain, France, Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council in siding with the Syrian opposition coalition attempting to wrest control of Syria from President Bashar al-Assad.
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"Obviously, with that recognition comes responsibilities," Obama told Walters. He later added, according to BBC News: "To make sure that they organize themselves effectively, that they are representative of all the parties, [and] that they commit themselves to a political transition that respects women's rights and minority rights."
According to Reuters, "The move, which was widely expected, could give new international legitimacy to the rebels fighting to overthrow Assad, but stops short of authorizing US arming of the opposition, something Obama has steadfastly refused to do."
The formal recognition also does not grant the opposition the legal authority of a state, which would give it the right to access Syrian government money, The New York Times reported.
Obama said the US does not support extremist or anti-US groups opposing Assad. "Not everybody who's participating on the ground in fighting Assad are people who we are comfortable with," he said, according to BBC News.
Earlier Tuesday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton designated one such group, Jabhat al-Nusrah, a foreign terrorist organization, BBC News reported.
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Watch a clip of Walters' interview with Obama below. The full interview will air this Friday.