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U.K. Recognizes Syrian Opposition
November 20, 2012

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The United Kingdom has joined France, Turkey, and the Arab League in recognizing the newly formed Syrian opposition coalition.

Foreign Secretary William Hague, in a speech to Parliament, said that the National Coalition of the Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces was a "credible" alternative to the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The National Coalition came into being at a meeting in Doha, Qatar.

Hague said that the U.K. would prefer a diplomatic solution, punctuated by the removal of Assad as leader of the country, but would not hesitate to use any measures governed by international law. At a meeting last week, British Prime Minister David Cameron urged National Coalition leader Mouaz Alkhatib to announce a proposal for political transition.

Hague went further than France, which last week recognized the National Coalition, by offering 1.6 million British pounds to help with communications equipment. One main complaint of the rebel forces struggling against Syrian government forces is that they have trouble coordinating their efforts because of a need for better troops, weapons, and equipment.

In the wake of this announcement, fighting still raged across Syria, with government tanks and troops escalating a fight within Damascus, the capital, to take back a rebel stronghold. Elsewhere, opposition forces claimed a northern airbase used by government troops to shell rebel-held areas near the Syria-Turkey border. Among the spoils of that seizure were tanks, armored vehicles, and truckloads of weapons and ammunition.

Turkey, meanwhile, announced that it had NATO support to install Patriot missiles along the border to try to stop shelling that has spilled over into Turkey.

The 20-month-old civil war has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, according to human rights groups. 






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