US President Donald Trump has decided to halt the CIA’s years-long covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the regime of the nation’s president Bashar al-Assad. Russia had long pushed the United States to end the program.
The phasing out of the secret program was reported by The Washington PostWednesday. Officials told the newspaper that ending the operation reflects Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia.
The program was a key component begun by the Obama administration in 2013 to put pressure on Assad to relinquish power. But even its supporters have questioned its usefulness since Moscow sent forces in Syria two years later.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders declined to comment on the reported end of the program and said she did not know if it was discussed during a pair of conversations — including one just revealed Tuesday — that Trump had with Putin at an international summit earlier this month.
The CIA declined comment on the report.