WASHINGTON- President Barack Obama has signed a secret order
authorizing US support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar Assad and his government, US sources familiar with the matter
Obama's order, approved earlier this year and known as an
intelligence "finding," broadly permits the CIA and other US agencies to
provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad.
This and other
developments signal a shift toward growing, albeit still circumscribed, support
for Assad's armed opponents - a shift that intensified following last month's
failure of the UN Security Council to agree on tougher sanctions against the
The White House is for now apparently stopping short
of giving the rebels lethal weapons, even as some US allies do just
But US 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. That represents a significant change in
assessments of the rebels by Western officials, who previously characterized
Assad's opponents as a disorganized, almost chaotic, rabble.