02:44 GMT +320 October 2018
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    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

    Moscow Comments Reports of CIA Halting Syrian Rebels' Training Program

    © AFP 2018 / BARAA AL-HALABI
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    Russia welcomes any step which would contribute to de-escalation in the Middle East, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Deputy Director of the Information and Press Department Artyom Kozhin said Thursday.

    MOSCOW (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.

    "I would basically like to say that we welcome any steps aimed at defusing the situation and strengthening of security in the Middle Eastern region," Kozhin told a briefing.

    In 2014, the United States authorized $500 million to train and equip 5,400 moderate Syrian fighters by the end of 2015. The first round of training yielded fewer than 60 fighters, of which only four or five were engaged on the battlefield, according to the Pentagon.

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    moderate Syrian rebels, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Russia, Syria
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