Obama authorizes CIA to conduct ‘non-lethal covert action’ in Syria

İncirlik Air Base, TurkeyBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
United States President Barack Obama has officially authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to assist anti-government rebels in Syria, according to a new report by the Reuters news agency. That the US Intelligence Community is operating on the side of the Syrian rebels has been known for quite some time. British media reported in as early as June of this year that American and other Western spy agencies were sharing intelligence with the Syrian Free Army. Later in the same month, The New York Times revealed that “a growing team” of CIA operatives was participating in a multinational effort to smuggle Turkish- and Saudi-supplied weapons into Syria for use by anti-government militias. And in July we explained that, according to American media reports, the CIA’s chronic shortage of reliable agents inside Syria had led the Agency to lend its weight to several existing operations led by Turkish, Jordanian, Israeli, and other intelligence organizations in Syria. Now a new report by Reuters claims that the CIA’s activities in support of the Syrian Free Army are part of an executive order handed to the Agency by the US President earlier this year. The order, formalized through what is commonly known as a ‘Presidential Finding’, effectively authorized the CIA —America’s only government agency allowed to engage in covert action— to prioritize and concentrate its resources on the ongoing Syrian uprising. Several other US government agencies are openly backing the Syrian rebels, mostly through financial support in the form of “humanitarian assistance”. But Obama’s Presidential Finding is the first indication that the US government is engaged in covert action in Syria. The Reuters report confirms earlier indications that the ‘nerve center’ of the CIA’s operations in and around Syria is located in the southern Turkish city of Adana, home of the US-run İncirlik NATO Air Base. Read more of this post

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Who is behind mystery spy devices dropped over Syria?

Radio transmitters found in Afrin, SyriaBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On December 14, residents of a small town in northern Syria reported seeing unidentified aircraft circling overhead, and dropping several small items attached to mini-parachutes. Two days ago, one local resident, Adnan Mustafa, posted on Facebook several photographs of some of these items, which were found scattered around the area. The gadgets, pictured here, look suspiciously like surreptitious listening devices. Residents say the question is: who dropped them, and why? The devices were found in the hills around Afrin, a predominantly ethnic-Kurdish town 20 miles south of the Syrian-Turkish border. Local townsfolk said the flight patterns of the planes observed on December 14 resembled those of previous sightings of Turkish aircraft, which routinely invade Syrian airspace before returning to the Turkish air base in Incirlik, about 100 miles north of Afrin. Syrian newspaper Al-Hakikah (The Truth), which supports the opposition Syrian National Council for Truth, Justice and Reconciliation, said the suspected spy gadgets weigh about 90 grams each and bear “Made in Germany” labels, as well as “GRAW DFM-06” inscriptions. Graw is a Nuremberg-based German company that produces radiosondes, small radio transmitters used in weather balloons, that measure various atmospheric parameters and transmit them to fixed receivers. But Al-Hakikah reports that the devices found in Afrin seem to transmit GPS coordinates, and appear to have been modified to intercept radio communications. Some suspect that the devices are aimed at eavesdropping on the communications of Syrian government troops and of Syrian Air Force planes, which are engaged in an increasingly bloody conflict against the opposition Syrian National Council. Read more of this post