US 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 said...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 Damascus government.A US government source acknowledged that under provisions of the presidential finding, the United States was collaborating with a secret command center operated by Turkey and its allies.This "nerve center" is in Adana, a city in southern Turkey about 60 miles (100 km) from the Syrian border, which is also home to Incirlik, a US air base where U.S. military and intelligence agencies maintain a substantial presence.On Tuesday, NBC News reported that the Free Syrian Army had obtained nearly two dozen surface-to-air missiles, weapons that could be used against Assad's helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Syrian government armed forces have employed such air power more extensively in recent days.Separately from the president's secret order, the Obama administration has stated publicly that it is providing some backing for Assad's opponents.
Iran’s support for terrorism and the activities of its proxy Hezbollah it at its highest level in more than a decade, according to a top US official."We are increasingly concerned about Iran’s support for terrorism and Hezbollah’s activities as they’ve both stepped up their level of terrorist plotting over the past year,” said Daniel Benjamin, the State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism, in releasing the 2011 US report on global terror Tuesday. “[They] are engaging in their most active and aggressive campaigns since the 1990s.”Benjamin characterized Iran as “the preeminent state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” and said the US was “deeply concerned” about Iran undertaking violent activities directly through its Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force.