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France becomes first European nation to back Syrian rebels

France on Tuesday said that it would consider arming Syria's newly formed opposition coalition with weapons should they form a government.

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Syrian rebel fighters stand guard at a check point in Aleppo's northern Izaa quarter, on November 3, 2012. (PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images)

France became the first European nation to support Syria's newly formed coalition of opposition members Tuesday, following the Arab League's recognition of the Syrian National Coalition.

"I announce today that France recognizes the Syrian National Council as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people and as future government of a democratic Syria making it possible to bring an end to Bashar al-Assad's regime," French President Francois Hollande said, according to Reuters, breaking from his fellow European leaders. 

On Monday, foreign ministers from Arab countries announced from Cairo that they considered the new National Coalition of the Syrian Powers of Revolution and Opposition as "the legitimate representative and main interlocutor with the Arab League," Al Jazeera reported

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France also suggested that it would consider supplying the new council with weapons if it proceeded with forming a government, Hollande said at a press conference in Paris, according to Reuters. 

Yaser Tabbara, spokesman for the new Syrian leadership coalition, said Monday it already expected support from the West. 

“We have assuaged a lot of the concerns and fulfilled a lot of preconditions on the Syrian armed opposition in terms of accountability and unity,” Tabbara told the Guardian, “and I believe the international community is ready to invest in the opposition both militarily and politically. That is the sense we got [at the meeting] in Doha.”

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France has a history of firsts in Middle Eastern politics. It was also the first country to officially recognize Libya's transitional government as a viable alternative to Muammar Gaddafi, Radio Free Europe reported

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/france/121113/france-becomes-first-european-nation-back-syrian-rebels