Obama authorized covert support for Syrian rebels, sources say
August 1st, 2012
10:37 PM ET

Obama authorized covert support for Syrian rebels, sources say

By Elise Labott

President Barack Obama has signed a covert directive authorizing U.S. support for Syrian rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad's forces, U.S. officials told CNN on Wednesday.

The secret order, referred to as an intelligence "finding," allows for clandestine support by the CIA and other agencies.

It was unclear when the president signed the authorization for Syria, but the sources said it was within the past several months.

The Obama administration has said it will step up its assistance to the opposition in the wake of last month's failure by the U.N. Security Council to agree on tougher sanctions against al-Assad's regime.

Exactly what type of support the finding authorizes is also unclear. The Obama administration has ruled out arming the rebels for now, providing only nonlethal assistance, such as communications equipment.

Last week, the U.S. Treasury Department approved a license allowing the Washington Syrian Support Group to provide direct financial assistance to the Free Syrian Army. The Washington-based representative of the Free Syrian Army is allowed to conduct financial transactions on the rebel group's behalf but is not allowed to send military equipment.

During the war in Libya, Obama signed a similar directive authorizing covert assistance for rebels in the battle against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

The Obama administration has resisted arming the opposition, in part, because U.S. officials don't know enough about the rebels.

U.S. officials have told CNN that Washington is cooperating with countries that are arming the rebels, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to help find groups worthy of aid. Diplomatic sources have also said the United States is providing intelligence on Syrian troop movements, which is then passed to rebel groups.

Foreign policy experts on Wednesday urged the Obama administration to increase its support of the armed opposition.

Testifying before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy argued the United States should start arming the Syrian opposition, but only under the right conditions.

"At this point, given the direction of the conflict, I think that what we need to do is assess which groups could we and should we arm at what point, and make that decision," Tabler told the Senate panel. "I think that we're actually at that decision, given where the conflict is going."

James Dobbins of the Rand Corporation agreed.

"The time has come to consider and pick those groups that are most consistent with our interest and our vision for the future and begin to advantage them in terms of the internal politics, by providing assistance, including perhaps money as well as arms and advice," Dobbins said.

Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel now with the Brookings Institution, recommended arming the opposition, but in a "wise way."

"We need to do it in a way that, first of all, we understand who we're supporting and what their intentions are," Indyk said.

The State Department said Wednesday the United States has set aside $25 million for "nonlethal" assistance to the Syrian opposition, with another $64 million in humanitarian assistance for the Syrian people.

The humanitarian aid, which includes funding for the World Food Programme, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other aid agencies, helps support the tens of thousands of refugees streaming across Syria's borders to neighboring Turkey and Jordan.

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Filed under: Assad • CIA • Intelligence • Syria
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Aaron Chaney

    DAMASCUS (SANA) – Authorities Raid Two Terrorist Hideouts In al-Sadat Neighborhood

    In conjunction with locals and after internal investigations and observation procedures were undertaken, authorities raided a terrorist hideout in al-Sadat neighborhood in al-Amara area in Damascus, and among a number who have been charged under newly enacted Law No. 22, several terrorists were fatally injured.

    A source at Damascus police headquarters said that during the preliminary interrogation of those who were arrested '...they revealed the location of another hideout in the same area which was then raided by authorities, who as a result killed and injured a handful of these treasonous plotters.'

    Listed among the confiscated weapons cache from the two locations were automatic rifles, handguns, sniper rifles, PKC machineguns, grenades and ammo.

    A police spokesman pointed out that the ID's of several detained terrorists lists them not as locals from al-Sadat neighborhood, but rather as coming from areas outside of Damascus countryside.

    DAMASCUS, (SANA) – Army Units in pursuit of vanquished terrorist groups in Yalda, Babila and Jdaidat Artouz

    An Army unit stormed the dens being used by armed terrorist groups in Yalda and Babila, Damascus countryside, killing a number of seditionists and arresting others.

    In Jdaidat Artouz, Damascus countryside, a unit from the Syrian Army dealt a crippling blow to an armed group which resulted in four deadly fatalities and the injury of an unconfirmed number of them.

    +

    DEIR EZZOR (SANA) – Authorities Pursue Terrorist Groups in Deir Ezzor

    In Deir Ezzor, authorities continued to pursue terrorists in the neighborhoods of al-Jbaile and Jamiyet al-Rasafa and though a handful managed to flee, several others were killed or severely injured.

    A SANA source in the province informrd that among the dead terrorists were Salah al-Hamada and Salah al-Jassem.

    In a related note, authorities outflanked fleeing terrorists in al-Qusour neighborhood in the city which resulted in the killing and injury of several complicit individuals.

    In the town of al-Mayadin in Deir Ezzor countryside, competent authorities likewise pursued and engaged a terrorist group, killing two and wounding one of its members.

    +

    IDLEB (SANA) – Authorities Confront Terrorist Group in Idleb Countryside

    'Operation Target Traitor' has successfully subdued a terrorist group which was blocking roads and attacking passersby at the Kafer Najda junction in Idleb countryside, with the action seeing the resultant deaths of the suspects.

    +

    MOSCOW (ITAR-TASS) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez underscores his country's support of the Russian and Chinese stances with respect to Syria's sovereignty.

    Russian ITAR-TASS News Agency quoted President Chavez in a press conference held following his return from Brazil on Wednesday, "The problems in Syria should have been solved by the Syrian's themselves and via peaceful means."

    The President expressed his regret that certain European governments 'who should know better' have decided to join in lockstep with a US/Zionist plot by recognizing and abetting those who are undermining Syria by also extending them aid in the form of money and weapons and the President pledged to counter this with a donor effort of his own that would extend and provide a bit of friendly assistance to the resistance.

    Chavez made clear the necessity of condemning any act of terror being perpetrated against civilians and that anyone who commits such acts on the asinine assumption that it would result in the handover of a sovereign government is uncategorically 'a deceived and deluded individual.'

    August 3, 2012 at 11:04 am | Reply
  2. Aaron Chaney

    HOMS (SANA) – Fifty plus terrorists surrender and hand in their weapons to authorities. Terrorists targeted and killed.

    In the central city of Homs, military personnel discovered a tunnel linking al-Qarabees neighborhood to al-Qosor and Dek al-Jin.

    The tunnel was being used as a passageway by armed groups in order to facilitate the distribution of their weapons which were confiscated following an intense altercation with Syrian armed forces from inside the tunnel which was thereafter collapsed and demolished.

    Several Terrorists Killed, Others Surrender in Homs

    Authorities set up a sting operation to target an armed terrorist group in al-Qseir countryside.

    An official source told a SANA correspondent that this pre-dawn raid led to the killing of every member of that wing of the armed terrorist group while adding that authorities also stormed the hideout of an armed terrorist group in al-Mouj town in al-Qseir countryside and likewise killed and injured several terrorists.

    Similarly in al-Ghanto village in Talbiseh district, security forces disrupted an armed terrorist group's schemes by inflicting heavy losses on them which caused the other elements who were defending the terrorist corridor to surrender themselves and as well their weapons.

    Authorities in Homs confront and attack armed group...
    Competent authorities quelled attacks by an armed groups on several law enforcement checkpoints in al-Qseir, killing or injuring a number of these terrorists.

    SANA quotes a military source on condition of anonymity in Homs as saying that the ongoing 'Operation Target Traitor' campaign, which is designed to purge the landscape of seditionists, will cost the terrorists dearly. This case in point incident resulted 5 terrorist causalities and as well 15 others who were reportedly injured.

    +

    ALEPPO (SANA) – On Wednesday, authorities engaged an armed terrorist group that opened fire on passing cars in Khanaser area in Aleppo Countryside.

    An official source at the province relates to SANA that terrorists were driving machinegun-mounted SUV cars and added that several of these subversives were killed or subsequently wounded during the encounter.

    'The armed terrorist group of three gunmen who attacked law-enforcement personnel in Talkalakh area in Homs Countryside have been extinguished. Those three terrorists, Mustafa al-Kurdi, Ahd Najm and Iyad al-Kurdi were all killed when their car was destroyed.'

    Military Forces Inflict Heavy Casualties In North Aleppo

    Military aerial forces on Wednesday bombarded armed terrorist groups in the Handarat area, north of Aleppo, according to an official source in the province who recounted to a SANA reporter that tens of terrorists were snuffed out and killed and that some were identified as Arab nationals.

    The source added members of a special task force has destroyed several SUV cars that were mounted with DShK machine guns.

    Meanwhile in the town of al-Shahara west of Aleppo, authorities set an ambush into motion that led to the deaths and injury of a large number who have been identified as Arab foreign mercenaries.

    A source in the province confirms to SANA that listed among the dead are terrorists Ali Sakerdeli and Abdelsalam Jebrael.

    In that same context, authorities trapped a terrorist group in the al-Atareb area of Aleppo countryside and destroyed a pickup truck they were using which was equipped with an anti-aircraft machinegun.

    The source went on to affirm this was the same armed group who attempted to attack law-enforcement forces in the village of Kafer Aleppo.

    Firefights took place in Aleppo city according to a SANA source on the scene who quoted Syrian armed forces that a band of fleeing terrorists in Ard al-Hashkal area south of Salah Eddin neighborhood were pursued and engaged, which saw the subsequent killing and wounding of a number terrorists and as well several arrests.

    Reinforced by army tactical units, Security forces of the Badiye Development Center in Khansar area, Aleppo countryside, confronted terrorists who attempted to break into the center and killed as well hobbled several of these outlaws. Three pickup trucks they were using and five cars have been confiscated. A total of seven terrorists were apprehended and charged with sedition.

    August 3, 2012 at 11:04 am | Reply
  3. lee

    You are trying to implement Peace Plan in one hand , you are also giving secret order to arm opposition in other hand . Good wish for peace .

    August 2, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Reply
  4. 2012marandalaw

    Reblogged this on Marinchek-Marn.

    August 2, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Reply
  5. But

    The GOP wouldn't have done it covertly. They would have just sent the poor people to fight and die in another war.

    August 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Reply
  6. DaveYoung

    Quiz:
    Q= Who is the most dangerous leaker: Julian Assange, or Barack WhoseInsane Obama ?
    A= you decide......

    JERUSALEM – An Israeli newspaper reports that the Obama administration's top security official has briefed Israel's prime minister on U.S. plans for a possible attack on Iran.

    The Haaretz daily says National Security Adviser Tom Donilon sought to reassure Israel that Washington is prepared to act military should diplomacy and sanctions fail to pressure Iran to abandon its nuclear enrichment program.

    Haaretz said Sunday that Donilon detailed the plans to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a visit to Israel earlier this month.

    August 2, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Reply
  7. diane

    CNN, there are over 3000 comments on this report on Huffpo. Hate to see your ratings tank, but this is why: you treat the important news like a joke. You treat the people like a joke. You're at 38 comments because you don't use critical, and invesitigative reporters. I used to think you were the most trusted; now you're a laughingstock for being a tool.
    SHHHHH!!! Secret leaks from our NPP winning leaker in chief.

    August 2, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  8. DaveYoung

    Obama is very leaky. Call a plumber.

    August 2, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Reply
  9. DaveYoung

    Look forward to a covert election. I see many dead voters and significant fraud looming ahead.

    August 2, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Reply
  10. Beef Lo Mein

    Let's do a covert in Hindu Land also before these people cause havoc !

    TERRORIST GROUPS IN INDIA WITH GLOBAL REACH

    • RASHTRIYA SWAYAM SEWAK SHANG (R.S.S.)
    • VISHWA HINDU PARISHAD
    • HINDU MUNNANI
    • ARYA SAMAJ
    • SHIV SENA
    • BHARATIYA JANATA PARISHAD
    • SANT SAMITI
    • HINDU MAHASABHA
    • BAAJRANG DAL

    August 2, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  11. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    While everyone is clamoring to get Al-Assad out, nobody seems to think about who will replace him!

    Also, the minority Christians are solidly against the Arab Spring everywhere with the Coptic Christains even refusing to meet with Hillary Clinton during her recent Cairo visit.

    America has erred big time in its temptation to get rid of regimes with the hope of bringing democracy, which the Muslim world largely do not understand.

    It's a well known fact that Al-Qaeda and other Islamic radicals are solidly behind the rebels. If we look at the backers of the "so-called" Arab Spring they have all been led by the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda and other radicals, with VOCIFEROUS support from rabid ant-Semite/Islamic supporters within/outside the Obama admin. incl. CNN's Mr.Fareed Zakaria, Rashad Hussain, Imam Rauf, Huma Abeid, Dean Obeidallah and many many more.

    It's essential that we do not overlook these internal/external threats impacting our own safety & security.

    August 2, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Reply
    • Abigail White

      Please find something original to write rather than harping on Muslim bashing.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Reply
  12. friedwater

    It's a race thing, We are in a mess because we have Obama in charge of the greatest country on Earth and he's destroying it.
    We have ignorant African's in control of the UN..How much worse can it get?

    August 2, 2012 at 11:56 am | Reply
    • Sodomite

      Speaking of ignorant....................

      August 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Reply
    • Reggie Dunlop

      Obama's in charge of Canada?

      August 2, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Reply
  13. friedwater

    Obama has succeeded letting our enemies the Muslim terrorist take over all the Islamic countries.
    Next they'll try to take us over.
    CNN is behind Obama like flies on a T urd.
    That's why there ratings have fallen through the floor.

    August 2, 2012 at 11:50 am | Reply
    • Egg Fried Rice

      Let's do a covert before Mama Kali starts eating people in USA.

      HINDU KALI – GODDESS OF VIOLENCE/TERRORISM

      A recent report by United Press trust of India (UPI) stated that during the past three years more than 2,500 young boys and girls were sacrificed to goddess Kali in India. Another of AFP's recent reports say: hundreds of young boys and virgin girls are sacrificed every month for the deity Kali. In one case Rama Sewak hacked his eight year old son to death in broad daylight in Delhi because goddess Kali had told him he would come back to life and bring him good fortune. Bloodthirsty Kali is worshipped openly the length and breadth of India. Kali's statue stands naked astride the inanimate body of the Hindu deity Shiva, tongue stuck out with blood dripping from fang-like teeth. She holds a noose, a skull-topped staff, a blood-encrusted sword and a severed head. She is also known as Durga, Devi, Shaktima, Uma and Parvathi in other manifestations. The priest of Delhi, Kali Bari, says that a child sacrificed to Kali ensures a man the birth of a son. Human sacrifices are also made to these gods or goddesses, either to appease them or to ask favours of them.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Reply
  14. George Patton

    No surprise here as anybody with half a brain would already know that that was the case. Only an idiot would think otherwise as the right-wing thugs in Washington want to take over in Syria too. They already have their right hand man picked to take over!!!

    August 2, 2012 at 8:18 am | Reply
  15. kuhtfhnkut

    IT IS 13:14 IN SYRIA

    August 2, 2012 at 8:16 am | Reply
  16. 66th Strategic Command & Operations Unit.

    Potentially some foreign intelligence operative could be killed now due to such a leak.

    August 2, 2012 at 5:26 am | Reply
    • Phunnie boy

      I totally agree with you on that. The very thought of a C.I.A. operative being killed scares me to no end. These leaks must stop!!!!!

      August 2, 2012 at 8:20 am | Reply
  17. Steven Rayos

    why are we attacking these countries again? I'll tell you why for no good reason... Wake up America!!!! Ron Paul for President..........

    August 2, 2012 at 5:24 am | Reply
  18. saeed

    fuc,ck kofi annan that ghanian filt,hh obama also is a irish halfbreed usa and britain are sending weapons into syria because they have lost against china thats the reson. usa and britian are bankcrupt its game over nintendo style one russian nuke and london and sydney vaporize from the earths suface.

    August 2, 2012 at 5:10 am | Reply
    • USMAN mehBOOB

      english saeed bhai pleaseeeeeeeee

      August 2, 2012 at 8:56 am | Reply
  19. clownalley

    why has the whitehouse been lying ? it wasnt a well kept secret anyway, more blood for votes

    August 2, 2012 at 4:34 am | Reply
  20. Dr. Langhorne

    Thats the entire problem with Obama. He's overt when it comes to easy targets like Gaddafi or former ally Mubarak.
    But he's so scared of the Iranians he wont openly oppose mass murderer Assad.

    August 2, 2012 at 12:45 am | Reply
    • William F. Phuckley

      When it comes to mass murder, Assad can't hold a candle to our illustrious Lincoln.

      August 2, 2012 at 1:37 am | Reply
      • Roman

        You forgot about the British royal family and the Pope: 100 000 000 on both continents, not so long ago.

        August 2, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • gamersliverfang

      I guess then you support the Saudi Arabian, Qatari backed terrorists?

      August 2, 2012 at 2:52 am | Reply
  21. Bruce

    It's not a secret anymore, I just read it on CNN.

    August 2, 2012 at 12:02 am | Reply
  22. I Took The Red Pill

    And why is this a surprise?

    August 1, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Reply
  23. Name*hst73

    We can't really refer to it as a "Covert Directive" if we're reading the details of the finding on the CNN website. Wonder which of the two special prosecutors detailed last month to discover the source of the ongoing leaks of highly classified programs will investigate this unauthorized disclosue?

    August 1, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Reply
  24. magneticink

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

    August 1, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Reply
    • Lyndsie Graham

      Thank you, magneticink. That's the very reason that the right-wing thugs in Washington are so triumphant in the world today as they always seem to get their way all over!!!

      August 2, 2012 at 10:11 am | Reply
  25. Sodomite

    Todays "rebels", tomorrow's "terrorists".

    August 1, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Reply
    • Miroslava

      You must come from a long line of slave owners...

      August 2, 2012 at 3:10 am | Reply
      • Sodomite

        Why? Because I don't readily swallow msm bs like I'm supposed to?

        August 2, 2012 at 11:41 am |
      • Sodomite

        .......and besides, if there's any race which knows a thing or two about subjugating others, it's the Slavs.

        August 2, 2012 at 11:43 am |
      • friedwater

        Your next LMAO

        August 2, 2012 at 11:55 am |

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