Trump officials end CIA’s funding of Syrian rebels
OFFICIALS in the administration of US President Donald Trump have decided to end the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) covert operations to fund, arm, and train so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels who are waging civil war against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The US began the operations in 2013 which were a central component of the Obama administration’s policy in Syria, which sought the overthrow of Assad.
Two officials said the programme had not been very successful, due to Assad’s “grip on power”.
They said the move was an effort by the Trump administration to improve US-Russia relations.
It is unlikely the move signals the end of US action against the Syrian government. Officials said while the CIA programme was ending, a “separate effort” by the Pentagon will continue, involving the training and arming of Syrian opposition groups, as well as support through air strikes.
The decision was made over the past month during consultation with National Security Adviser HR McMaster and CIA director Mike Pompeo. Although the US has recently negotiated a ceasefire with Russia in south-west Syria, the officials said the decision to end funding for Syrian opposition militants is not a part of the deal.
One of the officials said a “downside” of the CIA programme was that some of the so-called “moderate” opposition fighters were defecting to Islamic State. teleSUR