WASHINGTON, May 5 (Reuters) - The United States said on Monday it would recognize the main opposition Syrian National Coalition offices as a diplomatic foreign mission and announced plans for a $27 million increase in non-lethal assistance to rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
The announcement came at the start of a visit to Washington by a Syrian opposition delegation led by Ahmad Jarba, president of the coalition, also known as the Syrian Opposition Coalition. He is set to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday.
Syrian government forces have made gains on the battlefield and Damascus has announced a presidential election for June 3, expected to be won by Assad. Washington has said the elections are not credible and US officials have denounced them as "phony."
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the representative offices of the coalition would now be considered a "foreign mission" under US law.