November 13, 2012
France on Tuesday became the first European country to recognize the newly formed Syrian rebel coalition and raised the possibility of arming the group as it begins taking charge of the opposition’s role in the civil war.
The French announcement, conveyed by President François Hollande at his first news conference in office, went beyond other Western pledges of support for the new Syrian rebel group, which was officially created on Sunday and calls itself the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.
Though the United States and Britain have welcomed the rebel group’s formation, they have nonetheless held back on whether to recognize it as the legitimate government of Syria for now and have expressed reluctance to provide it with lethal military aid. That is in part because of uncertainties over how weaponry would be used and fears it would fall into the hands of the radical jihadists in Syria who are also fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad.