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Turkey recognizes rebels in Syria

Nov. 15, 2012 at 4:45 PM

ISTANBUL, Turkey, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Turkey said Thursday it has joined France and several Arab states in officially recognizing a coalition of rebels as legitimate leaders in Syria.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu made the announcement during in a speech in Djibouti, at a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, The New York Times reported.

France extended recognition to the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces Tuesday, one day after the Gulf Cooperation Council -- made up of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait -- recognized the coalition as Syria's legitimate leaders.

Thousands of refugees and rebel fighters have found a haven in Turkey, which shares a border with Syria.

France said it was considering whether to provide arms to rebels in Syria where the government of President Bashar Assad has fought an insurgency for the past 20 months in fighting that has resulted in an estimated 40,000 deaths.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry had urged other nations this week to recognize the coalition as the legitimate leaders of Syria, the Times said.

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