19 February 2018

Trump appears to confirm ending aid to Syria's rebels

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President Donald Trump appears to have confirmed ending a formerly classified CIA program to train and equip Syria's rebels. reports citing AA.

Trump called covert payments to Syrian rebels fighting forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad "massive, dangerous, and wasteful" in a late Monday night Twitter post.

His comments are the most senior acknowledgement of the CIA's program that had previously been shrouded in secrecy even as it was publicly reported that Trump put it to an end.

Late Friday, the head of U.S. special forces also appeared to confirm the end of the program when he told a security conference it was a "tough, tough decision.

"At least from what I know about that program and the decision to end it, absolutely not a sop to the Russians," Army Gen. Raymond Thomas said, denying that the decision was made for Russia's benefit. "It was, I think, based on an assessment of the nature of the program, what we’re trying to accomplish, the viability going forward."

Trump decided to nix the aid almost a month ago after meeting CIA Director Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in the Oval Office, according to the Washington Post.

Anonymous officials told the Post that Trump's decision reflects his desire to mend ties with Russia. Moscow has taken issue with the program intended to combat its ally Syrian ally, Assad.

"The shuttering of the program is also an acknowledgment of Washington’s limited leverage and desire to remove Assad from power," the newspaper added.

The CIA program will likely be phased out "over a period of months" the officials told the Post, noting that the decision has the support of key U.S. ally Jordan, that has hosted training sites for the Syrian rebels.

Trump slammed the Post's report, saying the newspaper "fabricated the facts" surrounding his decision.

He did not elaborate further, but appeared to question whether the newspaper was being used by political interest groups.

"Is Fake News Washington Post being used as a lobbyist weapon against Congress to keep Politicians from looking into Amazon no-tax monopoly?" he asked.

Amazon owner Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post. The on-line retailer has been criticized in past for not paying sales tax, but it has done so on a state by state basis.

2017.07.25 / 18:44
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