By Charles MaggsFollow @charlesmaggs
Foreign secretary William Hague has announced the UK will formally recognise the Syrian opposition as the country's legitimate government.
"Her Majesty's government has decided to recognise the national coalition of Syrian revolution and opposition forces as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people," he told the Commons
The new Syrian National Coalition was formally created in Qatar on the 11th November and its leaders have been meeting with several European leaders and foreign ministers since, including Hague last Friday.
The UK has followed the EU in recognising the opposition and has so far given over £50 million in humanitarian assistance to the country – this is to increase immediately with today's news.
There have been around 30,000 deaths in Syria as a result of the violence that erupted in March last year and there has been little sign of the conflict coming to an end.
Hague refused say whether the moves would lead to efforts to arm the opposition, saying there was "no change in policy on EU arms embargo, but we rule nothing out".
There had been fears large Islamist elements within the opposition militia might seek to take advantage of a power vacuum should Assad be overthrown, but opposition figures tried to allay those concerns over the last two weeks.
A 'Friends of Syria' event in Morocco next month will give the opposition another chance to present itself to the outside world as a competent government in waiting, able to bring about peace and stability in the key strategic state.