White House dismisses reports of aid to Syrian rebels

VOA reports: White House officials on Thursday dismissed reports that President Barack Obama signed an order to send U.S. aid to Syrian anti-government forces. The administration announced it is sending more humanitarian aid to Syria and neighboring countries.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney did not deny that the United States is helping the Syrian rebels. But he told reporters that the administration’s policy of providing non-lethal assistance to the opposition has not changed.

“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.

The Reuters news agency reported on Wednesday that Obama signed a secret order earlier this year, authorizing U.S. support for the Syrian rebels. The story said the order allows the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the opposition depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian human rights activist Ammar Abdulhamid, with the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, says his contacts in Syria tell him there is no evidence of a surge in aid to the rebels.

“I do not really see any intensification of these efforts. I see a lot of leaks, it seems to me, that were sort of primed to show that something is being done. But the reality is, so far on the ground, we have not detected any real involvement by the U.S. in the ongoing military operations in the country,” Abdulhamid said.

The State Department said Wednesday that the United States has allocated $25 million for non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition, much of it for communications equipment.

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