U.S., allies rushing to expedite Syria's transition

Last Updated: Thu, Dec 06, 2012 09:20 hrs

The United States and like-minded governments are rushing to fund and legitimize a newly formed Syrian opposition group.

The move comes amid fear that plans for a political transition is being outpaced by rebel military gains, U.S. and European officials said.

France, the first of several European governments to officially recognize the Syrian National Coalition, has sent diplomats in recent weeks to the Syrian border to hand out money to the group's representatives for distribution to local political councils, a senior French official said.

According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration is considering a similar approach.

A US official said that because of U.S. law, the money would be given "in coordination with the SOC" and would be carried into Syria by non-governmental organizations already distributing American aid, the report said.

The coalition was formed last month, under the tutelage of the United States and regional governments, as a last-ditch effort to bring disparate forces opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad under an umbrella that could lure his remaining supporters away from him, the report added.

According to the report, since then, international backers have moved rapidly to bolster its legitimacy by providing diplomatic recognition and money for it to dole out to local groups.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other leaders plan to announce increased funding at a Friends of Syria meeting next week in Morocco, even as the United States continues to reject direct military aid to Syrian rebels, the report said.

Clinton is also expected to announce U.S. recognition of the group as "the legitimate representative" of the Syrian people, anointing it as the transition authority that would take over after Assad's anticipated fall and following in the footsteps of France, Britain, Spain, Italy and other nations, it added. (ANI)

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