The United States has declined to fully recognize a newly formed Syrian opposition coalition, saying the group must first prove its worth after its predecessor was dogged by feuding and accusations of Islamist domination.
Fiscal year 2012/2013. Source: USAID
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday the formation of the coalition, which supersedes the widely discredited Syrian National Council, was an important step, but did not offer it full recognition or arms.
She also urged the new group - the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces - to support the commitments it made recently in Doha and start influencing events on the ground.
"So, good beginning, highly welcomed by us and others, and we want to see the steps taken that have been promised," said Clinton. "And we stand ready to assist this new opposition in standing itself up and representing the Syrian people to the regime and the international community."
Syria denounced the organization, which it said had closed the door to a negotiated solution with President Bashar al-Assad.
France had fully recognized the new coalition of opposition groups on Tuesday becoming the first Western power to do so.
The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council has also recognized the rebel group.
Clinton also announced the U.S. is providing $30 million in extra humanitarian aid for those affected by the Syrian conflict.
Clinton's remarks come as Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the fifth meeting of the Friends of the Syria will be held on November 30 in Tokyo. Japan will chair the meeting.
In fresh fighting Wednesday, Syrian troops used aircraft and artillery in an attempt to dislodge rebels from a town next to the border with Turkey. Ankara scrambled fighter jets to its southeastern frontier in response to the renewed Syrian air assault of the rebel-held frontier town of Ras al-Ain.
President Assad's air force has been bombing the area for days, trying to dislodge anti-Assad rebels who overran the town last week during an advance into Syria's mixed Arab and Kurdish northeast.
Also Wednesday, Israel's defense minister said Syrian rebels have taken control of nearly all villages near the Israeli-held Golan Heights. Ehud Barak said Assad's forces were "displaying ever-diminishing efficiency."