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UK recognizes Syrian National Council

The United Kingdom will recognize the Syrian National Council as legitimate representatives.

William hague hillary clinton friends of syriaEnlarge
United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) and British Foreign Secretary William Hague (C) speak with United Arab Emirates' Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan at the first "Friends of Syria" conference in Tunis on February 24, 2012. Hague announced that the UK will recognize the Syrian National Council, the largest opposition group, as a "legitimate representative" of Syria. (FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)

As violence rages in Syria, the Syrian rebels are gaining more support from all parts of the world and the Assad regime faces increased isolation.

The British foreign secretary, William Hague, announced today that the United Kingdom will officially recognize the Syrian National Council as a “legitimate representative” of the country, according to the BBC.

Hague was scheduled to meet opposition leaders at the Friends of Syria conference being held in Tunisia. The Syrian National Council, the largest opposition group fighting against President Bashar al-Assad’s government forces, suggested that countries should be allowed to supply the rebels with arms, said the BBC.

The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, replied to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s question about arming the rebels, saying it was “an excellent idea,” because the rebels had to protect themselves, according to the Associated Press.

The AP said Al-Faisal went further than any other nations at the Friends of Syria meeting to step up pressure on Assad to call a cease-fire, step down and allow aid into the hardest hit areas.

More on GlobalPost: Friends of Syria meeting to call for ceasefire

Bassma Kodmani, a senior figure in the Syrian National Council, said that some countries were already sending the opposition military communications technology, body armor and night-vision goggles, according to The Telegraph. However, western officials denied that claim, with one senior diplomat stating that even discussions about sending arms had not begun, much less the active provision of military supplies.

Hague confirmed the British are not contemplating sending arms, reiterating that, “We have in the European Union an arms embargo on Syria, so of course we will observe that arms embargo in all directions,” reported The Telegraph.

According to activists, over 7,000 people have died in the nearly year-long uprising, with Thursday alone seeing more than 90 deaths, said the BBC.

The Assad regime has also lost the support of its long-time allies, Hamas, further isolating it from the remaining Sunni Muslim countries in the Arab world, according to Reuters. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told worshippers at Friday prayers in Cairo, “I salute all the nations of the Arab Spring and I salute the heroic people of Syria who are striving for freedom, democracy and reform.”

The worshippers chanted, "The Syrian revolution is an Arab revolution."

More on GlobalPost: Homs: Red Cross begins evacuation of Syrian civilians 'without exception' (VIDEO)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/120224/uk-recognizes-syrian-national-council