Obama signed secret order authorizing support for Syrian rebels: Reuters


Syrian boys inspect a destroyed army tank in the northern town of Atareb, 25 kms east of Syria's second largest city Aleppo, on July 31, 2012. While fighting raged in Syria's commercial capital Aleppo for a fourth straight day, clashes between the Syrian army and rebels also erupted in Damascus and other parts of the country, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.



President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing the US to support Syrian rebels, sources told Reuters.

The Reuters report comes after NBC reported that the rebels have acquired missiles.  

Obama's order, which was approved earlier this year, gives broad orders to US agencies to help the Syrian rebels attempting to out President Bashar al-Assad, Reuters reported.

The order stops short of giving the rebels lethal weapons, according to Reuters. 

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NBC reported on Tuesday that the anti-Assad Free Syrian Army group had obtained two dozen surface-to-air missiles that could be used against Assad's helicopters.

According to NBC, the missiles were delivered to the rebels via Turkey.

On Tuesday rebels claimed that they took control of the city of Aleppo, forcing Assad's troops to retreat.

While UN observers have witnessed pro-Assad troops in fighter jets attacking the rebels, reporters and activists say that rebels still control much of the area. 

GlobalPost reporters inside Syria have found that the fighting has radicalized some rebels. Some rebels now say that they are fighting not just for the overthrow of the Assad dictatorship, but also for an Islamic Caliphate.

The White House later denied that its policy in Syria has changed, Voice of America said.

At a press conference Thursday, Press Secretary Jay Carney said its US policy to support the rebels, but not with weapons.

"We do not believe that adding to the number of weapons in Syria is what is needed to help bring about a peaceful transition,” Carney said, according to VOA.

The State Department confirmed Wednesday that the US has sent $25 million worth of communications equipment and other non-lethal supplies to aid the Syrian uprising.

Carney said the US has contributed more than $76 million worth of equipment, supplies and food for Syria and surrounding nations.

That includes, he said, another $12 million committed today.

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