Barack Obama has announced that he will formally recognize the new Syrian rebel coaltion as the "legitimate representative" of the Syrian people, ABC News reported on Wednesday morning.
The move is a big diplomatic shift for the U.S. president who, despite approval from the UK, France, Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council, has refused to legitimize the Syrian coalition previously.
"We've made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime," Obama told ABC News.
However, the U.S. president warned that he would not support extremist elements within the coalition and said in order to maintain his support they would need "to make sure that they organize themselves effectively, that they are representative of all the parties, [and] that they commit themselves to a political transition that respects women's rights and minority rights."
The move comes just 24 hours after the U.S. government declared Jabhat al-Nusra, one of the key groups of fighters on the rebel side, to be a "foreign terrorist organization."