The Obama administration says it has given approval for the Syrian opposition to open a formal diplomatic mission in Washington. It also says it will increase non-lethal aid to the opposition by $27 million.

The steps announced by the State Department on Monday upgrade the status of the Syrian Opposition Council, which had been previously represented by an informal liaison office. The administration recognized the council as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in December 2012.

The office won't be an embassy but will now be considered a "foreign mission" under U.S. law. The State Department suspended the operations of the Syrian embassy in Washington in March.

The announcements come ahead of meetings this week between senior U.S. officials and Ahmad al-Jarba, the visiting president of the opposition council.