Thursday, July 20, 2017

Washington Post: Trump Ends Covert CIA Program to Arm Syrian terrorist/rebels

Syrian terrorist/rebels
US President Donald Trump has decided to end the CIA’s covert program to arm and train the so-called "moderate Syrian opposition" battling the Syrian government, U.S. officials announced on Wednesday, according to Washington Post.

The program began by the Obama administration in 2013 to put pressure on Syria, but even its backers have questioned its efficacy since Russia deployed forces in Syria two years later, the newspaper said.

 Officials said the phasing out of the secret program reflects Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia.

They pointed out that Trump made the decision to scrap the CIA program nearly a month ago, after an Oval Office meeting with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and national security adviser H.R. McMaster ahead of a July 7 meeting in Germany with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Spokesmen for the National Security Council and the CIA declined to comment.

After the Trump-Putin meeting, the United States and Russia announced an agreement to back a new "cease-fire" in southwest Syria, along the Jordanian border, where many of the CIA-backed "rebels" have long operated. Trump described the limited "cease-fire" deal as one of the benefits of a constructive working relationship with Moscow.

The move to end the secret program to arm the "rebels" was not a condition of the "cease-fire" negotiations, which were already well underway, said U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the secret program.

Some current and former officials who support the program cast the move as a major concession.

“This is a momentous decision,” said a current official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a covert program. “Putin won in Syria.”

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