News / Middle East

US Recognizes Syria Opposition Offices as 'Foreign Mission'

FILE- Syrian National Coalition spokesperson Louay Safi addresses the media after a meeting at the Geneva Conference on Syria, February 15, 2014.
FILE- Syrian National Coalition spokesperson Louay Safi addresses the media after a meeting at the Geneva Conference on Syria, February 15, 2014.
Reuters
The United States said on Monday it would recognize the main opposition Syrian National Coalition offices as a diplomatic foreign mission and announced plans for a $27 million increase in non-lethal assistance to rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

The announcement came at the start of a visit to Washington by a Syrian opposition delegation led by Ahmad Jarba, president of the coalition, also known as the Syrian Opposition Coalition. He is set to meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday.

Syrian government forces have made gains on the battlefield and Damascus has announced a presidential election for June 3, expected to be won by Assad. Washington has said the elections are not credible and U.S. officials have denounced them as "phony."

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the representative offices of the coalition would now be considered a "foreign mission" under U.S. law.

She said it was another move aimed at formalizing the relationship between Washington and the coalition, which until now has been represented by liaison offices in Washington and New York.

The change is largely symbolic and does not mean that the United States is now recognizing the opposition as Syria's government.

"This is not tantamount to recognition of the SOC as the government of Syria," Harf told a daily briefing. "It's a reflection of our partnership with the coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people."

The upgrade would also facilitate banking and security services for the opposition in the United States and help it reach out to Syrians living in the United States, Harf added.

In a statement, Jarba said the new status was a diplomatic blow against Assad's legitimacy.

"This is an important step in the path toward a new Syria, its recognition on the international stage, and its relations with Syrian nationals in the US," Jarba said. "The new status provides a diplomatic platform for the Coalition to advance the interests of the Syrian people at all levels."

The State Department suspended the operations of the Syria's embassy in Washington and consulates in other U.S. cities in March as efforts by the United Nations to broker a peace deal failed to make progress.

Diplomatic initiatives by the United States and Russia to end the war have failed amid worsening relations between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine. Russia is Assad's main backer in the war, which is in its fourth year.

Harf said the Obama administration was working with the U.S. Congress to increase non-lethal aid to the moderate opposition by $27 million, bringing total assistance to about $287 million. The non-lethal aid has included medical aid and food rations, communications equipment and vehicles.

The assistance has fallen far short of rebel demands for more sophisticated anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to turn the tables against Assad's mostly Russian-supplied forces.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid