WASHINGTON, May 5 -- The United States on Monday granted the status of foreign mission to the representative offices of the National Coalition of Syrian Opposition and Revolutionary Forces, and announced more non-lethal aid to the opposition.
"We are happy to announce that the coalition's representative offices in the United States are now foreign missions under the Foreign Missions Act," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters at a daily press briefing.
She stressed that the move was not "tantamount to recognition" of the opposition group as the government of Syria, but would serve to facilitate banking and security services for its offices in the U.S., as well as their outreach to the Syrian diaspora in the country.
Harf said the move was part of measures aimed to support the coalition, which was recognized by Washington as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people in December 2012.
She said the Obama administration was working with the Congress to provide over 27 million dollars in additional non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition, bringing such support to a total of some 287 million dollars.
In addition, Washington was stepping up deliveries of non- lethal aid to the rebel Free Syrian Army to "enhance their logistical capabilities," Harf added.
She again called on the Syrian government and the coalition to work together to produce a transitional governing body in the war- torn country. "That's a very difficult process, but that's what needs to happen from here," she said.
She noted that Ahmad Jarba, president of the coalition, is in the U.S. for the first official visit.