US President Barack Obama has reportedly signed a secret executive order that permits CIA and other US agencies to provide support to rebels in ousting Syrian President Bashar Assad, though it stops short of providing lethal weapons.
Obama's order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence "finding," a presidential document containing an authoritative decision, broadly permits the CIA and other US agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad.
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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.
The White House has reportedly set aside $25 million for aid to Syrian rebels, although the assistance remains limited to non-lethal supplies such as communications gear, the State Department said on Wednesday.
The Obama administration originally set aside $15 million to help the Syrian opposition, but some time ago added another $10 million to the amount available, department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said.
"The 25 million dollar number actually is the number we're working from," Ventrell told a regular daily news briefing.
"I don't have the exact number of the money that has been has been spent... but the bottom line is we've already spent millions of dollars of this 25 million dollar pot and will continue as the requests come in," he said.
Separately, the State Department said that the United States has set aside $64 million in humanitarian assistance for the Syrian people, including contributions to the World Food Program, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and other aid agencies.
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