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France Recognizes Syrian Opposition; Rebels Get Heavy Weapons

France became on Tuesday the first country outside the Persian Gulf to recognize the newly formed Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces. Hillary Clinton held back on offering the same support from the United States, saying the opposition leaders must first prove they have some clout with the rebels in Syria.

Meanwhile, photos of rebel fighters with new weapons have come to light. Eliot Higgins, who keeps track of the Syrian civil war over at the Brown Moses blog, has pictures that show fighters with sophisticated Russian shoulder-fired missile systems, including the SA-16 and SA-24. These fearsome weapons, upgrades from the SA-7, some of which the rebels already possess, were reportedly captured from the regime by the Islamist group Ansar al-Islam. As CJ Chivers writes for the NYT, the SA-24 is “one of the world’s most modern heat-seeking missiles and the subject of quite a scare this year in Libya.”

Syrian regime aircraft bombed Ras al-Ain, a town only a few feet from the border with Turkey, for the third straight day today. Turkey scrambled its aircraft in response.

Over the next few days we can expect more of the same: more new countries in the West announcing their support for the new rebel leadership and more and better weapons appearing in rebel hands, while the fighting carries on more or less at its current intensity. It’s a conflict that won’t be easily ended any time soon.

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