The CIA has been feeding intelligence to select Syrian rebel groups in their efforts against the Bashar Assad regime, according to a report published Saturday.
The Wall Street Journal cited current and former American officials who said the US was worried about extremist Islamist forces that are gaining strength in Syria. The US seeks to prevent groups such as al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra from taking over after Assad’s expected ouster. The CIA is therefore funneling information to secular opposition fighters, according to the report.
Obama, standing side by side with Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Friday, said the international community must work together to ensure there is a credible Syrian opposition ready to step into the breach.
“Something has been broken in Syria, and it’s not going to be put back together perfectly immediately — even after Assad leaves,” Obama said. “But we can begin the process of moving it in a better direction, and having a cohesive opposition is critical to that.”
He said Assad is sure to go but there is great uncertainty about what will happen after that.
“I am very concerned about Syria becoming an enclave for extremism,” Obama said, adding that extremism thrives in chaos and failed states. He said the rest of the world has a huge stake in ensuring that a functioning Syria emerges.
“The outcome is Syria is not going to be ideal,” he acknowledged, adding that strengthening a credible opposition was crucial to minimizing the difficulties.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.