EU declares Assad not legitimate government of Syria, endorses opposition bloc


EU leaders endorse the Syrian opposition dealing a blow to the Assad government.


WPA Pool

European Union foreign ministers endorsed the Syrian opposition bloc Monday declaring them the "legitimate representatives" of Syria.

The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces was already endorsed by France last week who pushed other EU nations to recognize the new bloc.

In a statement after the decision the EU said: “The EU considers them legitimate representatives of the aspirations of the Syrian people.”

“This agreement represents a major step towards the necessary unity of the Syrian opposition."

Al Jazeera reported that Italy, France and Britain are still expected to bring their decision back to their respective parliaments for debate on Tuesday.

The EU still maintains an arms embargo on Syria and there is no word whether European countries will aid rebels militarily.

Some worry that the opposition bloc is still fragmented and may be rejected by those fighting on the ground.

"The nature of the opposition is still pretty fragmented," Malcolm Chalmers, a professor at King's College in London told the Associated Press.

"There are fears of what the opposition regime would look like. There is a strong wish that we get a regime that is broadly representative rather than sectarian with extreme agendas that the West would not support."

The Associated Press reported that more extreme Islamist factions fighting in Syria have already said they reject the new coalition and that they will push for an Islamic state.

The National Coalition was formed last week, said Al Arabiya, after talks in Doha.

The group replaced the Syrian National Council who will get 22 seats in the new 60 member bloc.

The coalition is led by Islamic preacher and engineer Moaz al-Khatib who fled Syria during the uprising.

It will be headquartered in Cairo.