The U.S. president, Barack Obama , has signed a secret order authorizing the U.S. support to rebels seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government, sources said experts on the subject.
Obama's order, passed earlier this year and known as a "discovery" of intelligence, allows the CIA and other U.S. agencies that can help support the rebels to overthrow Assad .
This and other events indicate a change from the growing but still limited,support for armed opposition to Assad , a change that intensified after the failed attempt by the Security Council of the UN to agree on tougher sanctions against the government of Damascus last month.
The White House has now apparently delivered lethal weapons to the rebels, although some allies of the United States could do. But U.S. and European officials have said that there has been noticeable improvement in the consistency and effectiveness of Syrian rebels in recent weeks.
WHITE HOUSE STILL NO SECRET ORDER ACLARA
was not possible to determine the precise moment when Obama signed the secret intelligence authorization, an action which had not previously been reported.
The total length of underground support agencies like the CIA could provide is also unclear. The White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to comment.
CENTRAL COMMAND IN TURKEY
A source at the U.S. government acknowledged that under the provisions of the presidential order, the United States is working with a command center operated by Turkey and its allies.
Last week, Reuters reported that, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Turkey had established a secret base near the Syrian border to help direct military support and communication vital to Assad's opponents.
This "nerve center" is in Adana , a city in southern Turkey, about 100 kilometers from the border with Syria, which also is home to Incirlik, a U.S. airbase where the military and intelligence agencies have an important presence.
The moderate Islamist government of Turkey has demanded the departure of Assad with increasing vehemence. The Turkish authorities reportedly are increasingly involved with the training and equipping the Syrian rebels, according to retired employees and current U.S. government.
European government sources said the rich families in Saudi Arabia and Qatar are providing significant funding to the rebels. Senior officials of the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar have openly called for the departure of Assad.
On Tuesday, NBC News reported that the Syrian army had obtained nearly free two dozen ground-air missiles , weapons that could be used against helicopters and fixed wing aircraft Assad. The Syrian government forces have used their air power more frequently in recent days.