President Obama authorizes CIA assistance to Syrian rebels
President Obama has signed a secret order authorizing U.S. support for rebels seeking to get rid of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and his government.
Obama’s order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence ‘finding’, broadly permits the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad.
This development signals growing support for Assad’s armed opponents, a shift that intensified following last month’s failure of the U.N. Security Council to agree on tougher sanctions against the Damascus government.
U.S. and European officials have said that there have been noticeable improvements in the coherence and effectiveness of Syrian rebel groups in the past few weeks, who were once described as a disorganized, almost chaotic, rabble.
Precisely when Obama signed the secret intelligence authorization, an action not previously reported, could not be determined.
The full extent of clandestine support that agencies like the CIA might be providing also is unclear. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined comment.