France became the first European nation on Tuesday to formally recognize a coalition of opposition forces fighting a nearly two-year-long civil war in Syria as the country’s legitimate representatives, following a growing list of nations to do so this week.
In making the recognition, French President Francois Hollande said his country would look into arming the rebel coaliton once they formed a transitional government, reports Reuters.
The United States has also recognized the opposition coalition, calling it “a legitimate representative” of the Syrian people.
The Arab League formally recognized the body on Monday, reports CNN, despite predominately reported opposition from Algeria and Iraq. The Gulf Cooperation Council has also come on board in recognizing the opposition, urging world governments to arm rebels with “specialized weapons” to “cut short the suffering of the Syrians.”
Turkey, which has become increasingly involved militarily with the 20-month-long civil war in Syria, became the latest nation to formally recognize the group on Thursday, reports Al-Arabiya News.
British foreign secretary William Hague will meet with Syrian opposition leaders on Friday, and later next week with his French counterpart on ways to support the new coalition, reports the UK Daily Guardian.
The new coalition formed in Doha, Qatar on Sunday. A spokesman for the Syrian National Council said the group has named themselves the National Coalition Forces of the Syrian Revolution.
“SNC member Ahmed Muaz al-Khatib was selected chairman of the coalition,” reports CNN. “He is a former Sunni imam of the historic Ummayad mosque in Damascus. He has been detained at least three times since March 2011.
Ahmed Muaz al-Khatib, whose name has been spelled as “Mouaz Alkhatib” by Reuters, asked for formal recognition and international funding after the coalition officially formed on Sunday.
“When we get political recognition, this will allow the coalition to act as a government and hence acquire weapons and this will solve our problems,” said al-Khatib, who is considered a moderate known for his embracing of Syria’s religious and ethnic minorities.
The group’s new vice presidents are Riad Seif, a prominent dissident and businessman from Damascus who served in the Syrian parliament as an independent, and Suhair Atassi, who is from a prominent Syrian family and is well-known for being outspoken against the government. She has also been an advocate for women’s rights, calling the civil war a revolution for equality.