Administration officials insist they will not provide arms to the rebel forces. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar are already financing those efforts.
But US officials said that the United States was likely to supply some intelligence support and provide more communications training and equipment to help improve the combat effectiveness of disparate opposition forces in their widening, sustained fight against Syrian army troops.
By enhancing the command-and-control of the rebel formations, largely by improving their ability to communicate with one another and their superiors and to coordinate combat operations, US officials say they are seeking to build on and fuel the momentum of the rebels’ recent battlefield successes.
“You’ll notice in the last couple of months, the opposition has been strengthened,’’ a senior Obama administration official said Friday. ‘‘Now we’re ready to accelerate that.’’ The official said that the hope was that support for the Syrian opposition from the United States, Arab governments, and Turkey would tip the balance in the conflict.
Senior administration officials say the changes are in response to a series of setbacks at the UN Security Council, where Russia has staunchly refused to engineer the removal of Assad, as well as the turmoil that has left the Syrian government reeling, at least for the moment.
‘‘We’re looking at the controlled demolition of the Assad regime,’’ said Andrew J. Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. ‘‘But like any controlled demolition, anything can go wrong.’’
‘What is the end? That’s the dilemma,’’ said one senior defense official. ‘‘No one knows what the end is. So it’s all about mitigating the risks.’’
‘‘It’s an outcome that contains the seeds of a war that never ends,’’ said Robert Malley, Middle East and North Africa program director at the International Crisis Group.