Britain officially recognized the Syrian opposition Tuesday, increasing the international legitimacy of the newly formed coalition of groups seeking to topple the government of President Bashar Assad.

Foreign Secretary William Hague told Parliament that London had "decided to recognize the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people."

France, Turkey and several Arab countries recognized the coalition last week. Other Western nations have also expressed support for the opposition coalition but stopped short of full recognition.

There has been some hesitation in recognizing the new coalition before it proves it can unite the exiled opposition groups with those fighting inside Syria.

But many fear that jihadist fighters are gradually taking on a more prominent role in the uprising against the government.