Tabnak – Just about two weeks after the presidents of Russia and the United States reached a ceasefire agreement for southern Syria, US President Donald Trump has reportedly ended a CIA program to train the Syrian rebels. A move which could have wide-ranging implications for the developments on the ground in Syria.
The Washington Post cites US officials as saying that Donald Trump has ended the clandestine American program to provide arms and supplies to Syrian rebel groups, a recognition that the effort was failing and that the administration has given up hope of helping to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Therefore, it joins similar failed efforts to deliver arms and money to groups seeking to overthrow governments that Washington found noxious, most famously the Kennedy administration’s disastrous effort to do away with the government of Fidel Castro in Cuba.
The CIA program began in 2013 as part of the efforts by the Obama administration to overthrow Assad, but produced no tangible results. Another downside of the program is that some armed and trained rebels defected to ISIS and other terrorist groups.
According to the officials, the shuttering of the program shows Trump’s attempts to bolster closer relations with Russia. "It’s a signal to Putin that the administration wants to improve ties to Russia," one of the officials said.
However, the Kremlin declined to comment Thursday on the report that Trump had ended the CIA program in Syria. According to CNN, asked about it during a regular call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "I won't comment this on behalf of Kremlin. No comment on that."
By the way, Trump has spoken about ditching the Obama-era program in the past. In November he spoke to the Wall Street Journal about the arming of rebels, saying that he didn't think it was productive to be fighting Syria which is fighting ISIS.
However, as pointed out by Press TV, this is not the end of US involvement in Syria as Trump signed off in May on a plan to arm the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces -- a Kurdish rebel group -- using Department of Defense funds; and a separate effort by the US military to support other Syrian rebel groups with air strikes and other actions will continue, the officials said.
Pentagon chief spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement that "the president authorized the Department of Defense to equip Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces as necessary to ensure a clear victory over ISIL in Raqqa, Syria.”