3 Aug 2012

US supporting Syrian rebels - reports

8:36 am on 3 August 2012

US President Barack Obama has reportedly signed a covert order authorising support for Syrian rebels.

The directive, which was approved earlier this year, permits the CIA and other agencies to provide assistance to help oust President Bashar al-Assad.

It has been rumoured for some time that the CIA has been assisting the rebels from Turkey. There has been no response from the White House.

The United States appears to be stopping short of directly arming the Free Syrian Army.

The Obama administration has said publicly it is offering support to the rebels, including $US25 million, mostly for communications equipment such as encrypted radios.

But the BBC reports it is not clear what type of support is authorised by the secret order, known as an intelligence finding.

Mr Obama previously signed a document to authorise covert assistance to rebels fighting against former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.