President Barack Obama has announced the United States has decided to recognize Syria's main opposition group as the "legitimate representative" of the Syrian people.
The move means Washington no longer recognizes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, which the U.S. has repeatedly called on to leave power.
Obama, speaking on ABC News, said the recently formed Syrian Opposition Council is "inclusive enough" -- that is, has representatives from a broad range of Syrian factions -- and should be granted international legitimacy.
Obama added that after being granted such recognition, the council must act responsibly and respect the rights of women and minorities.
Obama's announcement came ahead of an international meeting on December 12 in Morocco at which Washington and its allies are expected to discuss further boosting support for the Syrian opposition.