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Group recognizes Syrian opposition as sole representative of Syria

An international group has officially recognized the legitimacy of the Syrian opposition coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people. The declaration came shortly after the US backing of the Syrian group.

More than 120 countries pledged their support of the newly formed National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces at the meeting of the group "Friends of Syria" in Marrakesh on Wednesday. Morocco's foreign minister made the official announcement at a press conference following closely after the approval of the declaration.

"Today, full recognition is given to the National Coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people," Moroccan Foreign Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani told reporters.

The opposition coalition - a council made up of rebel groups in and outside of Syria who oppose President Bashar Assad's regime - signed a unity agreement in Qatar on November 11. Since then, it has been endorsed by Britain, France, Turkey, Gulf countries and the United States.

Saudi Arabia also announced its donation of $100 million (130 million euros) to the National Coalition.

While attendees drafted the official declaration in Marrakesh, representatives from the National Council in attendance on Wednesday urged the US to reconsider its stance on the al Nusra front.

"We might disagree with some parties and their ideas and their political and ideological vision. But we affirm that all the guns of the rebels are aimed at overthrowing the tyrannical criminal regime," spokesperson Mouaz Khatib told the meeting.

The day prior to the meeting in Marrakesh, US President Barack Obama officially backed the Syrian council during an interview on national television in the US, but denounced the al Nusra front.

"There is a small element of those that oppose the Assad regime, that in fact are affiliated with al Qaeda in Iraq and we have designated them, al Nusra, as a terrorist organization," Obama said.

As the meeting took place in Morocco, bombs and fighting continued in Syria.

At least one person was killed and others wounded near the capital city, Damascus, when several bombs exploded on Wednesday.

The civil war, which began in March 2011, has claimed the lives of over 42,000 people, according to numbers from the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

kms/hc (dpa, AFP, Reuters)