The July 23 document adds that the group must file regular, detailed reports of transactions, including the parties involved, the amount sent and the services provided.
A U.S. Treasury official, speaking only on the condition of anonymity per department protocol, confirmed the issuance of the license and said it wouldnt cover the direct shipment of weapons, radios or other technical equipment, which would require a different type of permit.
However, the official acknowledged that the money could go toward weapons for the rebels and said that the Syrian Support Group would be responsible for making sure the license wasnt used to benefit anyone linked to groups on the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations.
They need to exercise their due diligence, the Treasury official said. The money, obviously, shouldnt be going to anyone designated by the U.S.
The Free Syrian Army is showing signs of coalescing into a more formal force, but it still suffers from a lack of central command and the wildly varying degree of professionalism among its fighters.
While the most skilled units are made up of defectors from Assads army, others are simply civilians-turned-insurgents with no formal military or weapons training, a trend thats led to a growing number of reports of executions and abuse by the opposition forces.
In addition, Syrian and foreign Islamist extremists have joined the cause, and little is known about their loyalties or ultimate aims for a post-Assad Syria.
Even supporters of the Treasurys decision to license funding say its no substitute for more direct U.S. involvement to remove Assad quickly and identify trusted transitional authorities not only from the combatant ranks but also from exiled technocrats and grass-roots activists in Syria.
Analysts and activists say the risks are too high for the U.S. government to bet that the rebels eventually will win a bloody, drawn-out conflict without more U.S. and international military aid.
The Free Syrian Army has a lot to prove, but the OFAC (license) didnt come out just because the administration wanted to wash its hands of the issue, Sayers said.