Trump of­fi­cials end CIA’s fund­ing of Syr­ian rebels

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

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

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