(DAMASCUS, Syria) — Syrian authorities on Wednesday ordered additional air strikes against rebels in villages close to the Turkish border, and blasted a French government decision to formally recognize the newly-formed Syrian rebel coalition.
Faisal al-Miqdad, Syria’s deputy foreign minister, said France’s decision to recognize the Syrian rebel umbrella group, which calls itself the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, “is an immoral position because it allows the killing of Syrians,” according to AFP.
“They are supporting killers, terrorists, and they are encouraging the destruction of Syria,” al-Miqdad added.
French President Francois Hollande said this week that the umbrella group is the “only representative of the Syrian People and therefore…the future provisional government of a democratic Syria.”
France is the first Western nation to formally recognize the new organization.
At his news conference Wednesday, President Obama said he was “encouraged” to see that the Syrian opposition created an umbrella group.
The president said the U.S. considers the group “a legitimate representative of the aspirations of the Syrian people,” but quickly added that the United States was “not yet prepared to recognize them as some sort of government in exile….” He said the coalition is viewed as a “broad-based representative group.”
Obama said two crucial issues remain for the United States. He stated that the U.S. wants to be sure that the opposition “is committed to a democratic Syria, an inclusive Syria, a moderate Syria.” The president said the U.S. also wants to prevent any flow of arms from reaching extremist elements “who would do Americans harm, or do Israelis harm, or otherwise engage in actions that are detrimental to our national security.”
An estimated 35,000 people have died since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began nearly 20 months ago.
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