Free Syria Army member with an assault rifle 390 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Amateur video)
The US is collecting intelligence on Islamic extremists in the rebel forces
fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad, for possible targeted drone
strikes, the Los Angeles Times quoted US officials as saying on
The US officials believe al-Qaida operatives and fighters in
Iraq moved to Syria to join the rebels.
The intelligence assembled will
provide the White House with both lethal and non-lethal options if it concludes
the Syrian conflict is creating a haven for terrorists, according to the Times.
It could also be used to help moderate opposition figures prevail over
The officials clarified, however, that US President Barack
Obama has not authorized drone missile strikes in Syria and that none is
currently under consideration.
The CIA’s counterterrorism center recently
shifted several targeting officers from collecting intelligence for drone
strikes in Pakistan and Yemen to Syria, to improve intelligence collection on
Islamists who could pose a terrorist threat. The targeting officers have not,
however, been deployed to the war zone, and will conduct their intelligence work
from CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
The CIA and the White House
refused to comment on the targeting effort, the Times said.
involvement in the conflict has amounted to giving humanitarian aid to the
Syrian people, as well as non-lethal assistance to the opposition that includes
medical supplies, food for rebel fighters and $60 million to help provide basic
services such as security, education and sanitation.
to this report.