19:27 GMT +322 September 2019
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    Armed men in uniform identified by Syrian Democratic forces as US special operations forces ride in the back of a pickup truck in the village of Fatisah in the northern Syrian province of Raqa on May 25, 2016

    Training Program for Syrian Opposition Ended Based on Assessment - Commander

    © AFP 2019 / DELIL SOULEIMAN
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    The arm-and-train program of the CIA for Syrian opposition has been ended based on assessment and was not a favor to Russia, according to US Special Operations Command head Raymond Thomas.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The arm-and-train program of the CIA for Syrian opposition has been ended based on assessment and was not a favor to Russia, US Special Operations Command head Raymond Thomas said at a security forum.

    "Absolutely not a sop to the Russians," Thomas said on Friday responding to a question about the program. "It was based on assessment of the nature of the program, what we were trying to accomplish, the viability of it going forward. Tough decision."

    US President Donald Trump reportedly decided to halt the training of Syrian rebels about a month ago after a meeting with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, media reported earlier in the week. The program originally ramped up in 2015 and was designed to produce a force of more than 5,000 troops to fight the Syrian government.

    The Washington Post reported in 2015 based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden that the CIA training project in Syria was one the agency’s largest covert operations, with a budget approaching $1 billion a year.

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    Tags:
    training program, assessment, US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Raymond Thomas, Russia, Syria, United States
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