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US-Backed 'Moderate' Rebels 'Turn to Terrorists in Fear of Abandonment by Trump'

© REUTERS / Abdalrhman IsmailRebel fighters stand near a damaged bus used as a barricade in the rebel-held besieged Bab al-Hadid neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria December 2, 2016
Rebel fighters stand near a damaged bus used as a barricade in the rebel-held besieged Bab al-Hadid neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria December 2, 2016 - Sputnik International
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Fearing possible abandonment by Donald Trump after he takes the office, what the US describes as "moderate Syrian opposition" is now looking for alternatives to US support, such as that of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, lamenting that instead of providing assistance, the US is "watching them drown."

"Three years after the CIA began secretly shipping lethal aid to rebels fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, battlefield losses and fears that a Donald Trump administration will abandon them have left tens of thousands of opposition fighters weighing their alternatives," according to The Washington Post.

Citing its sources among US officials, regional experts and the rebels themselves, the newspaper reports that among the options are "a closer alliance with better-armed al-Qaeda and other extremist groups, receipt of more sophisticated weaponry from Sunni states in the Persian Gulf region opposed to a US pullback, and adoption of more traditional guerrilla tactics, including sniper and other small-scale attacks on both Syrian and Russian targets."

© REUTERS / Abdalrhman IsmailA man inspects an unexploded missile in the rebel-held besieged al-Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria November 28, 2016
A man inspects an unexploded missile in the rebel-held besieged al-Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria November 28, 2016 - Sputnik International
A man inspects an unexploded missile in the rebel-held besieged al-Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria November 28, 2016

It further recalls that during his electoral campaign, Donald Trump made clear that his priority in Syria is the separate fight against the Islamic State (Daesh, ISIS), ideally in cooperation with Russia and the Syrian government, as well as other allies. And indicated he will curtail support for the opposition.

"Trump has repeatedly dismissed the rebels, saying, 'We have no idea who these people are'," the newspaper says.

Syrian residents fleeing the eastern part of Aleppo walk through a street in Masaken Hanano, a former rebel-held district which was retaken by the regime forces last week. (File) - Sputnik International
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"My attitude was you’re fighting Syria, Syria is fighting ISIS, and you have to get rid of ISIS," it cites Trumps as telling the Wall Street Journal last month.

It also cites one US-vetted rebel commander, without revealing his name as saying that the rebels "are very frustrated. The United States refuses to provide weapons they need, and yet it still thinks it can tell them what to do. They promise support and then watch us drown," he states.

Meanwhile, the US' and Russia's head diplomats met in Rome on Friday to work towards ending the fighting in Aleppo. The two sides are set to continue discussing the conflict in Aleppo on Wednesday.

Commenting on the continued negotiations of the outgoing US administration, Russian military expert and defense analyst Victor Litovkin explained to Radio Sputnik why it does not drop the attempts to alter the Russian stance.

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"Kerry's continuous efforts indicate that he and President Obama might have some personal relationship with the Syrian opposition," he told Sputnik.

"The Americans are banking on the so-called Syrian opposition because it is the only tool they have against Bashar Assad and the only force able to implement the US' plans in Syria. For example, to squeeze Russia from Syria and close its military base there, and from the Mediterranean," he further elaborated.

However the outgoing US administration, he suggested, has nothing to offer to Russia. Russia's simple condition was to separate the opposition from terrorists. It is ready to let the so-called opposition from the eastern Aleppo, he said, however they can't leave because the terrorists won't let them.

© AP Photo / Hassan AmmarSyrian army soldiers help a family fleeing rebel-held eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo into the Tariq Al Bab area that is controlled by Syrian government forces East of Aleppo, Syria, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016
Syrian army soldiers help a family fleeing rebel-held eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo into the Tariq Al Bab area that is controlled by Syrian government forces East of Aleppo, Syria, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016 - Sputnik International
Syrian army soldiers help a family fleeing rebel-held eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo into the Tariq Al Bab area that is controlled by Syrian government forces East of Aleppo, Syria, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016

"Hence we are telling Americans: apply certain efforts, demonstrate your influence, make the opposition leave Aleppo. We are even ready to let it escape together with the terrorists," he said.

However, he explained, anything of these actions will mean the US admitting defeat.

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