Donald Trump Ends Covert CIA Program To Arm “Moderate” Syrian Rebels

President Donald Trump has elected to end the CIA’s covert program to arm and train “moderate” Syrian rebels fighting against the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria according to U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington PostThe program was a central plank of a policy begun by the Obama administration in 2013 to put pressure on Assad to step aside, but even its backers have questioned its efficacy since Russia deployed forces in Syria two years later. Preceding the CIA program was a Pentagon-led effort which was criticized by Foreign Policyfor costing $500 million without yielding tangible results.

Officials said the phasing out of the secret program reflects Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia after Trump’s July 7 meeting with Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. It may also signal an lack of ability as well as desire by Washington to take steps to remove Assad from power in Syria. Officials told the Washington Post 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.

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