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December 13, 2012

In Syria, Rebels Now Represent the People

Watch International Governments Formally Recognize Syrian Rebels on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

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After months of bloody civil war, the U.S. and 113 other nations recognized the coalition of Syrian opposition groups as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. This will increase the pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as he still refuses to give up power.

“In a growing number of towns and villages, a new Syria is being born. The regime of Bashar al-Assad must and will go. The sooner he steps aside, the better for all Syrians,” said William Burns, U.S. deputy secretary of state.

The Russians have opposed outside action against the Assad regime, and disagreed with recognizing the opposition.

“As the coalition has been recognized as the only legitimate representative, it seems that the United States decided to place all bets on the armed victory of this very national coalition,” said Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister.

Syria’s capital Damascus, considered one of the last strongholds of the Assad regime, has lately seen increased assaults from rebels. Parts of the capitol look like battlefields, as amateur video showed burned-out cars from a blast near the Justice Ministry, and three bombs exploded outside the Interior Ministry.

The New York Times reported the Syrian military is now fighting back with Scud missiles, firing at least a half-dozen in recent days.


“We have made a decision that the Syrian opposition coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population,” – President Barack Obama.

Warm up questions

1. Where is Syria? What is happening there right now?

2. What is a civil war?

Discussion questions

1. Why do you think the international community decided to recognize the rebels now?

2. Do you think this recognition will change the conflict in any way? If so, how?

3. Do you think there is any danger to recognizing the rebels now? If so, what is it?

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