Saturday, February 11, 2012

U.S. Stepping Up Syrian Intel Gathering

Via CNN's Security Clearance Blog -

The United States has recently stepped up intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations over Syria, CNN has learned.

"This is for situational awareness," a senior U.S. official told CNN. "There are media reports but we also want to verify exactly what is happening."

The official said the United States believes all the media reports coming out of Syria, but for intelligence uses they want to gather even more information to understand precisely what is happening there.

The official would not address whether U.S. intelligence-gathering operations include eavesdropping on or jamming of Syrian government and military communications. Such actions were used in Libya. Under fire from some quarters for not doing more immediately to help stop the bloodshed in Syria, the State Department on Friday said it will release publicly reconnaissance photos of Syrian cities showing broad images of what appeared to be smoke rising from areas where the fighting is most intense.

The first image was posted on the Facebook page of the U.S. Embassy in Damascus. That embassy was closed last week when U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford and his remaining staff were called back to Washington.

The images shows "some declassified U.S. national imagery of destruction of Homs, very gruesome pictures showing lines of tanks, showing fire, showing the kind of things that you really only see when you have a major military attacking in a civilian area," explained State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.


US State Dept: Satellite Images of Syrian Military Artillery

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