France becomes first Western power to formally back new anti-Assad coalition in Syria
France has become the first Western power to recognise Syria's opposition coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
The move was announced by President Francois Hollande at a televised news conference in Paris.
"I announce today that France recognises the Syrian National Coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people and as the future government of a democratic Syria, allowing it to bring an end to Bashar al-Assad's regime," Hollande told reporters.
Hollande said that France would look at the question of arming the coalition, but that it would not support doing so 'as long as it wasn't clear where these weapons went'.
"With the coalition, as soon as it is a legitimate government of Syria, this question will be looked at by France, but also by all countries that recognise this government," he said.
Syrian opposition groups had struck a deal in Qatari capital Doha on Sunday to form a broad coalition to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
According to the BBC, the US and Britain have both signalled support for the coalition, but they stopped short of recognising it as a government-in-exile.