PARIS -- The Syrian authorities on Wednesday ordered airstrikes close to the tense Turkish border for the third consecutive day, and said a French decision to recognize and consider arming a newly formed coalition of Syrian government opponents was an "immoral" act "encouraging the destruction of Syria."
"This is an immoral position because it allows the killing of Syrians," said Faisal al-Miqdad, Syria's deputy foreign minister, according to Agence France-Presse. "They are supporting killers, terrorists, and they are encouraging the destruction of Syria."
On Tuesday, France became the first Western nation to fully embrace the new umbrella organization, the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, which came together last weekend under Western pressure after days of difficult negotiations in Doha, Qatar.
On Wednesday, President François Hollande of France invited the leader of the group, Sheik Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, to Paris for talks, Reuters reported.
Mr. Miqdad was harshly critical of the coalition, saying its plans for Syria amounted to a declaration of war. He faulted the group for rejecting dialogue and the mechanisms of the United Nations to solve the problem.
The Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, has said he is committed to a United Nations' cease-fire plan, but his forces have violated it repeatedly.
The six Arab countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, including the opposition supporters Qatar and Saudi Arabia, recognized the rebel coalition on Monday as the legitimate Syrian government.
The United States, however, has withheld that level of recognition.
In a news conference on Wednesday, President Obama said, "I'm encouraged to see that the Syrian opposition created an umbrella group that may have more cohesion than they've had in the past."
"We consider them a legitimate representative of the aspirations of the Syrian people," he added. "We're not yet prepared to recognize them as some sort of government in exile, but we do think that it is a broad-based representative group."
He said that two crucial issues for the United States were "making sure that that opposition is committed to a democratic Syria, an inclusive Syria, a moderate Syria," and keeping any flow of arms from reaching extremist elements "who would do Americans harm, or do Israelis harm, or otherwise engage in actions that are detrimental to our national security."
In Perth, Australia, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced $30 million in American humanitarian aid to feed Syrians affected by the civil war, bringing the total American assistance to almost $200 million.
The airstrikes on Wednesday underscored the urgency of diplomatic maneuvers. Journalists near the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar said they had witnessed a Syrian airstrike in the adjacent Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, where rebels say they have ousted troops loyal to Mr. Assad. It was the third such strike there in the last three days.
In response, Reuters reported, Turkey scrambled fighter jets to its southeastern border with Syria, underlining Turkey's insistence that it will not refrain from a tougher reaction.
The fighting has also pressed against the Israeli border, near the Golan Heights. Israel has fired twice into Syria in recent days after taking Syrian mortar fire, claiming a direct hit on Syrian artillery units on Monday.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak of Israel visited the Golan Heights, according to The Associated Press, and Mr. Barak said most of the Syrian villages near the border were under rebel control. "The Syrian Army is displaying ever-diminishing efficiency," The A.P. quoted Mr. Barak as saying.
The Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, met in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with his counterparts from the six Gulf Cooperation Council nations, but failed to agree on an approach to end the violence. Russia has blocked repeated Security Council efforts to pressure the Syrian government to halt its bloody crackdown as a conflict that began peacefully in early 2011 has deteriorated into civil war, with a death toll of roughly 40,000.
At a news conference in Riyadh, Mr. Lavrov condemned the bloodshed as "outrageous," Reuters reported, but criticized the new opposition coalition as failing to include the opposition within the country. "Without attracting the internal opposition," Reuters quoted him as saying, "it is hard to believe that this process is inclusive."
Neil MacFarquhar contributed reporting from Beirut, Lebanon.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.