US President Barack Obama said Tuesday in an ABC TV interview that the United States would formally recognize a coalition of Syrian opposition groups as that country’s legitimate representative. His purpose was to boost the Friends of Syria forum meeting Wednesday in Marrakesh and pile pressure on President Bashar Assad to step down. DEBKAfile: Obama’s step is unlikely to affect the Syrian standoff because it is counter-balanced by the continued support for legitimacy of the Assad regime by Iran, Russia and China.  In Marrakesh, the umbrella of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces was formally recognized as the “legitimate representative of the Syrian people" and Assad called upon to "stand aside” in a declaration drafted by 130 international representatives.
The “Friends” also warned the Assad government that any use of chemical or biological weapons would be met with a “serious response.”