Trump administration instructs CIA to halt support for anti-Assad rebels in Syria

Free Syrian ArmyThe White House has instructed the Central Intelligence Agency to halt military support to armed groups that are associated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a group opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Some believe that the move indicates a change in American policy under United States President Donald Trump. But Syrian rebel commanders say they believe the move is temporary, and that military aid will be restored. For several years, the CIA has provided training and other forms of assistance to rebel groups in Syria, such as the New Syrian Force, which operate under the umbrella of the FSA. Aside from training, the assistance has included light and heavy ammunition, including antitank missiles, mines and grenades.

However, it appears that the CIA was instructed nearly a month ago by the White House to freeze all assistance to these rebel groups. Correspondents from the Reuters news agency said they confirmed the change in policy by speaking to senior rebel commanders from five armed groups operating under the FSA. These commanders told Reuters that they had not been given any official reason for the sudden termination of all CIA assistance. The change coincided with the change of guard at the White House, from Barack Obama to Donald Trump. Some in Washington, as well as some members of rebel factions in Syria, are concerned that the change in the CIA’s stance might denote a broader policy shift in the White House. During his election campaign, Mr. Trump said repeatedly that he would end America’s overt and covert support for the FSA and would focus instead on defeating the Islamic State.

But the rebel commanders themselves told Reuters that the freeze in CIA support was due to a wave of renewed attacks against them by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, a Sunni militant group that was previously affiliated with al-Qaeda. The rebels said that the CIA was concerned that weaponry provided to the FSA would end up in the hands of jihadist militants, so it temporarily halted its support until Jabhat Fateh al-Sham could be pushed back by FSA forces. Reuters published comments by two anonymous officials who were familiar with the CIA’s operations in Syria. They told the newspaper that the freeze of the CIA’s program had “nothing to do with US President Donald Trump replacing Barack Obama in January”. Additionally, said Reuters, Mr. Trump’s policy in Syria remains unknown. Several newspapers and news agencies contacted the CIA asking for comments, but the agency declined all requests on Wednesday.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 23 February 2017 | Permalink

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8 Responses to Trump administration instructs CIA to halt support for anti-Assad rebels in Syria

  1. Bill Banks says:

    Without doubt, Middle East would have had terrible problems without President Bush’s determination to remove Sadaam–and President Carter/President Reagan’s support of “the Afghan freedom fighters” (the Taliban and AQ of today). Your article here seems to demonstrate the quality of that last three decades of reasoning: FSA can not be given arms, lest they be seized by AQ surrogates. BUT FSA is expected to defeat this genuinely formidable foe without same…

  2. Mr Boompi says:

    Good. There doesn’t seem to be any difference between FSA and ISIS anyway, and I think the CIA is well aware of that. You know, this could put McCain out of job as the official ISIS cheerleader.

  3. rabbitnexus says:

    Rubbish. The CIA doesn’t follow presidential orders.

  4. Eric East says:

    They will just find another way to arm them, via Saudis or through Turkey, Iraq, or Jordan.

  5. whj says:

    As if CIA was bound to “orders” lol

  6. Jean Clink says:

    You have two other articles that seem to contradict this: CIA helping Turkey, Saudi Arabia, smuggle weapons into Syria:

    Pilot program gives Syrian rebels advanced Western weaponry

    Tulsi Gabbard’s mission to Syria revealed that the rebels are terrorists. We need to quit contributing to the destabilization of the Middle East and making the chaos that terrorists thrive in.

  7. Pingback: Syria: Six years of an orphaned revolt | RiyadhVision

  8. bratfalean says:

    Must change USA politic for Afganistan, Pakistan,Siria. Free election in Siria!Today 50% population support Assad regim!

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