Faced with a frustrating vacuum of intelligence on the situation in Syria, the Central Intelligence Agency is beefing up efforts here at home hoping to address that void, sources tell Fox News.
The CIA is bringing in as many analysts as possible and asking them to work longer hours than usual — aiming to have more eyes and ears on the situation 24 hours a day. A CIA task force assigned specifically to Syria is “working round the clock” to dig up as much intelligence as they can about current developments on the ground and likely scenarios should President Bashar al-Assad’s regime collapse, according to a senior intelligence official.
The boosted efforts reflect increased concern over the future of a society that has remained closed for some time, the sources said.
“Even people who ‘know’ Syria have a hard time figuring out what’s really going on inside there,” the senior intelligence official said. “This is a very fluid situation.”
In particular, the U.S. intelligence community worries about a wave of ethnic cleansing should Assad fall.
“You’ve had a minority running the country for so long, and a lot of people will be” looking for revenge against Assad and his allies, according to the senior intelligence official.
Interviews by The Washington Post with U.S. and foreign intelligence officials indicate the CIA hasn’t been able to establish any presence in Syria, at least in part because the U.S. Embassy in Damascus was closed five months ago and Syrian opposition groups have been unable to take control of territory that, according to the Post, could serve as a foothold for CIA teams.
The dearth of strong U.S. intelligence on the situation in Syria is a sharp contrast to the U.S. government’s recent experience in Egypt, where “we had a long-standing intelligence agreement and familiarity with all the players,” the senior intelligence official told Fox News.