– CIA authorised to offer intelligence support to Syrian rebels (Telegraph, Aug 2, 2012):
The CIA and other US agencies have been given carte blanche to supply intelligence information to the Syrian opposition, sources in the US have disclosed.
President Barack Obama signed a secret order authorising US support earlier this year allowing the sharing of intelligence information by American agencies to help oust Bashar al-Assad, sources told the Reuters news agency.
The Obama administration has stated publicly that it is providing some “non lethal” backing for Assad’s opponents – including $25 million set aside for assistance this week – but the sharing of intelligence had not been known.
According to the source, the order has allowed US agents to work closely with a clandestine command centre based in Turkey, believed to be in Adana, a city 60 miles from the Syrian border. Incirlik, a US airbase, is also in the city.
The White House has stopped short of arming rebel forces although some US allies have been actively supplying weapons.
Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are largely financing the anti-Assad effort, supplying guns and a limited number of anti-tank weapons, such as bazookas.
US agencies have not been involved in providing weapons to Assad’s opponents, the secret order indicates. In order to do so, President Obama would have to approve a supplement, known as a “memorandum of notification”.
News of support from US intelligence agencies follows last month’s failure of the UN Security Council to agree on tougher sanctions against the Damascus government.
White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to comment.