(McClatchy Newspapers) The Obama administration’s decision to drop its recognition of the Syrian National Council as the leading Syrian opposition group and propose creating a new umbrella organization surprised and puzzled close U.S. allies, diplomats said Friday.

The U.S. government gave no advance notice of its intention to renounce the council as the lead umbrella group, diplomats of three countries said. They said their governments learned about the initiative from news accounts.

Diplomats criticized Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for using what they called inappropriate language in describing the council as made up of people who haven’t been in Syria for decades; many of its members, the diplomats said, left the country only after the uprising against President Bashar Assad began 19 months ago.

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