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End of CIA Program for Syrian Rebels Means 'Assad-Must-Go' No Longer US Priority

© AFP 2022 / LOUAI BESHARASyrians walk past a portrait of President Bashar al-Assad in the capital Damascus on March 15, 2016
Syrians walk past a portrait of President Bashar al-Assad in the capital Damascus on March 15, 2016 - Sputnik International
The decision of US President Donald Trump to end CIA’s arm-and-train program for the moderate Syrian opposition signals that ousting Syria’s President Bashar Assad is no longer a priority for Washington, the private intelligence firm Soufan Group said in a report on Thursday.

A rebel fighter from the First Battalion under the Free Syrian Army takes part in a military training on June 10, 2015, in the rebel-held countryside of the northern city of Aleppo - Sputnik International
Moscow Comments Reports of CIA Halting Syrian Rebels' Training Program
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Wednesday, The Washington Post newspaper reported, citing US officials, that US President Donald Trump had made a decision to end the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) program to arm and train the moderate Syrian opposition.

According to the media outlet, the decision was made about a month ago after Trump’s meeting with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and national security adviser Herbert Raymond McMaster and before the talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at G20 summit.

"The decision reflects the Trump administration’s stance that the removal of Assad is not a US priority," the report stated.

The intelligence firm noted that the training program was ineffective and problematic since its launch.

Supporters of the Free Syrian Army ride a motorcycle with a rocket-propelled grenade in Kafar Taharim, Syria. - Sputnik International
CIA Declines to Comment on Arming Syrian Rebels With Anti-Aircraft Weapons
The CIA reportedly maintained its program to provide weapons to Syrian opposition fighters since 2012.

US Congresswoman and military veteran Tulsi Gabbard said in December that the CIA was arming Syrian rebels in an effort to overthrow the Assad government.

White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at a press briefing on Wednesday that she cannot confirm the news of ending the program "at this time."

A CIA spokesperson told Sputnik that the agency declines to comment on the reports.

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