REUTERS, AL JAZEERA (Qatar), NEW YORK TIMES (USA)
Barack Obama has authorized covert US support of Syrian rebels in order to oust President Bashar al-Assad, reports Reuters.
The secret order, which was allegedly signed earlier this year allows the CIA to offer support and assistance to rebel fighters engaged in conflict, with similar reports emerging that Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are providing intelligence assistance to rebel forces.
However, the news of President Obama's secret order could prove difficult as the circulation of two videos Wednesday prompted debate on the rebel forces' tactics. The violent and disturbing images posted on YouTube show Free Syrian Army rebels publicly executing supporters of Bashar al-Assad, one of whom has been identified as Sunni politician Zeino al-Barri, Al Jazeera reports.
Human rights activists are denouncing the act as a war crime. A researcher for Human Rights Watch, Nadim Houry, told the New York Times: "Intentionally killing anyone, even a shabiha, once he is outside of combat is a war crime, regardless of how horrible the person may have been ... As the opposition gains more territory, it is important to hold them to the same standard that we would apply to all sides."
Barri execution: What we have in common is exactly what we didn't want to have in common. An opportunity for justice was missed. #Syria— Amal Hanano (@AmalHanano) July 31, 2012
The World Food Programme and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have also expressed concerns that the conflict has resulted in the Syrian agriculture sector losing $1.8 billion this year.
The organizations said on Thursday that up to three million Syrians will need food, crop and livestock aid over the next year, as wheat and barley crops have been badly affected.