Rebel fighters and civilians stand looking at a burning building following a reported barrel bomb attack by Syrian government forces on April 20, 2014 in the northern city of Aleppo. (AFP PHOTO / AMC / ZEIN AL-RIFAI)
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To hear American experts on computer warfare tell it, the United States has cyber weapons that could cripple the Syrian government's air defense, disrupt military communications, and knock out the power grid.Cutting communications between Damascus and military commanders in the field could give an edge to rebels fighting the Assad government – perhaps more so than the U.S. made anti-tank missiles that have been making their way over the past few weeks to rebel units deemed moderate.There are no international conventions on cyberwar.Cyber Command, established in 2009, has a staff of 1,800 which is planned to grow to 6,000 in the next 32 months.Last year, the then-head of Cyber Command, General Keith Alexander, said the unit was setting up 13 "offensive teams".Bashar Assad's government also has its own cyber command, the Syrian Electronic Army, whose hackers have launched disruptive attacks on American and European websites.Shortly before handing over command of the NSA and Cyber Command to his successor, Vice Admiral Michael Rogers early in April, Alexander told a Senate hearing that hostile hackers could shut down power in the U.S. Northeast or damage the data of the New York Stock Exchange, causing trillions of dollars in losses.
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