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U.S. Orders Expanded Use of Covert Action, Paves Way for Possible Iran Strikes

U.S. Is Said to Order Expanded Use of Covert Action in Middle East --'The precise operations that the directive authorizes are unclear.' 24 May 2010 The top American commander in the Middle East has ordered a broad expansion of clandestine military activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter threats foment terrorism in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in the region, according to defense officials and military documents. The secret directive, signed in September by Gen. David H. Petraeus, authorizes the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces. Officials said the order also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its nuclear ambitions escalate.