U.S. aid to Syrian opposition includes specialized communications equipment
A YouTube video posted by Syrian opposition shows Syrian security forces walking in the town of Kanaker on March 16, 2012.
April 2nd, 2012
04:49 PM ET

U.S. aid to Syrian opposition includes specialized communications equipment

By Jamie Crawford

The United States is providing Syrian opposition groups specialized equipment to help the opposition organize and communicate outside of the watchful eye of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

The equipment comes in addition to the increase in financial contributions that were announced this past weekend.

"The United States is going beyond humanitarian aid and providing additional assistance, including communications equipment that will help activists organize, evade attacks by the regime, and connect to the outside world - and we are discussing with our international partners how best to expand this support," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday in Istanbul at a meeting of the so-called 'Friends of Syria.'

With the uprising in Syria entering its second year, the administration said the communications assistance is needed to supplement the $25 million in humanitarian assistance already pledged.

U.S. officials and other sources familiar with the aid say it includes satellite communication equipment, as well as hardware and software systems to help the opposition evade government censors, and more easily communicate internally and externally.

In her meetings in Istanbul, Clinton met with a woman from the besieged city of Homs who explained the communication challenges in Syria. The woman "made clear" to Clinton "that when Homs was under shelling attack, they didn't even know what was happening on the other side of the city let alone be able to talk to opposition leaders in cities across Syria," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters Monday.

In addition, Iran has provided assistance in helping the Syrian government use computer monitoring to rout out opposition using social media and other Internet tools, intelligence officials told CNN last month. The intelligence officials described the assistance as similar to the tools used by Iran to suppress its own revolution.

"The goal is to help the opposition communicate with itself, communicate with the outside world to help it to organize better and to help it have better situational awareness so it can evade regime attack," Nuland said.

"What I will say is that we had a pretty modest program through (the Middle East Partnership Initiative) as we do in many countries," Nuland said. "We will now be expanding this in scope."

Last weekend Britain also announced additional non-lethal assistance for the opposition. Foreign Secretary William Hague said his government would be providing 500,000 pounds (nearly $802,000) to the opposition, which would include money for satellite communications equipment and training.

While the Obama administration refuses to arm the disparate opposition groups in Syria, the United States and other nations at the Istanbul meeting agreed to set up a "working group" to monitor countries that continue to arm and support the al-Assad regime.

-CNN's Barbara Starr and Elise Labott contributed to this report

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Filed under: Assad • Hillary Clinton • Secretary of State • Syria • Technology
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. joe

    We gotta stop spending American blood, on Israeli interests.

    April 3, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  2. dan50

    No one can dictate america, they are what they are..

    April 3, 2012 at 10:16 am | Reply
    • i am sam

      [QUOTE who="Faith"]Because Israel is a responsible and rational nation and Iran is a terroristic, crackpot theocracy. [/QUOTE]

      Israel is a proven terrorist state, that has carried out aggressive actions against their own allies, not to mention innocent civillians.

      White phosphorous...

      Bomblets in lebannon..

      And AIPACS enourmous influence in American politics.

      That is the face of true terrorism.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Reply

    nice step taking, its will go a long way in combating security challanges pos by assad.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Reply
    • gemini

      Look for Israel behind the scenes.

      I love seeing all this anti Israeli sentiment, people are waking up.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Reply
  4. can you hear me now ?

    the communication devices will tell putin where the opposition is hiding ! if you think i am joking your wrong . everyone wants this over before thousands more are killed.

    syria will not fall but assad may be the gift of a bribe to silence the UN and USA , wink , wink ! just games played at the price of the lives of women and children.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Reply
    • jon

      Thanks to Israel.

      Believe it.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Reply
  5. nonymmanuel


    Annan is moving for peace to halt violence. America and others are arming the rebels giving them money to be killing their selves fools. American have seen that they have loose ground now they are forcing assad to halt so america can see ways to arm oppositions and give them a good radio communications so they can hit Assaad bad. This is plan b for the west. Assaad becarefull

    April 2, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Reply
    • Hello

      Actually the US and other countries are providing non-lethal assistance. Read the last paragraph Obama Admin refuses to arm the opposition...

      April 2, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Reply
    • dan50

      your tolerating killings by syrian regime by praising assad of
      what he has done.

      April 3, 2012 at 10:09 am | Reply
  6. jon

    Israel will lead the world to war, if we let them..

    April 2, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Reply
  7. Gideon

    Cheers sir!

    April 2, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  8. david

    Research israels aparteid policies.

    Investigate AIPAC contributions to politicians.

    Israel is the leading cause of anti-semtism.


    Don't support pro zionist politicians.

    April 2, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Reply
    • Gideon

      Israel is indeed a great threat to humanity.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Reply
      • Abraxas

        Agreed, its time for the UN to get tough with those criminals.

        April 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
      • gemini

        How can we fight them?

        April 2, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
      • dan50

        gideon,a name of one of israel's great leader, i don't know what nationality are you but seems you talk baselessly. how could you say that israel is the threat of humanity?

        April 3, 2012 at 10:14 am |
      • gemini

        Israel is a threat, ur a retard to believe different.

        April 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
      • joe


        Your fukking kidding I hope...

        Zionist bitch...

        April 3, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • alexander

      Not that the Palis are good, but I agree Israel is the real problem.

      They are using the US to destroy Syria...

      April 2, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Reply

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