President Obama announced on Tuesday that the U.S. would recognize Syria's new opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the nation's people, joining France, Britain, Turkey, and Arab Persian Gulf states in an effort to increase pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. Hours later, the "Friends of Syria" group, which includes both Western and Arab states, said it would do the same. Obama's move marks a shift toward deeper involvement in the effort to end a conflict that has claimed 40,000 lives since protests against Assad's regime began last year. Some experts say anti-U.S. anger has grown in Syria as Washington stayed on the sidelines. Obama said that the newly formed National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces is the first group that was inclusive and organized enough to be treated as "the legitimate representative of Syrian people."
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