President Obama said the United States has recognized the rebel coaltion in Syria, which is seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
The announcement made Tuesday by Obama, whom critics say has not responded forcefully enough over the course of the two-year bloody Syrian conflict, gives a diplomatic boost to the anti-Assad movement. But it stops short of promising any military or financial support to the rebel forces, Reuters reports.
Support for the opposition coalition in Syria is growing. More than 100 nations at a "Friends of the Syrian People" conference in Marrakech Wednesday granted full political recognition to the rebels. The conference called on Assad to step aside and warned him against using chemical weapons, the Associated Press reports.
France, Britain, Turkey and the Gulf states granted recognition to the rebel forces in Syria last month. Until now, the U.S. held out its support over concerns that the opposition was split by too many internal factions and rivalries, and Washington insisted the groups form a more united coalition, Reuters said.
Still, Obama remains uneasy about the U.S. supplying weapons to the rebels, Reuters said.
"Not everybody who's participating on the ground in fighting Assad are people who we are comfortable with," Obama said in the article. "There are some who, I think, have adopted an extremist agenda, an anti-U.S. agenda, and we are going to make clear to distinguish between those elements."