19:15 GMT +321 October 2019
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    In this May 30, 2016, photo, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, speaks during a Phoenix Memorial Day Ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in Phoenix.

    McCain Claims WH 'Playing Into Putin's Hands' by Ending CIA Syria Rebels Program

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    The administration of President Donald Trump is playing into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin if it canceled the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) program to arm rebels in Syria, US Senator John McCain said in a statement on Thursday.

    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.

    Administration officials have so far refused to either confirm or deny media reports. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that Moscow welcomes any step which would contribute to de-escalation in the Middle East, when asked to comment on the news.

    "If these reports are true, the administration is playing right into the hands of Vladimir Putin. Making any concession to Russia, absent a broader strategy for Syria, is irresponsible and short-sighted," McCain stated.

    McCain lamented that the administration had not yet articulated its vision for the Middle East or for Syria beyond Trump's oft-repeated pledge to eradicate Daesh terror group.

    The senator added the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad should remain "a key pillar of American strategy."

    The United States and Russia have in recent weeks stepped up their cooperation to wipe out Daesh and de-escalate the conflict in Syria.

    On July 7, Putin and Trump agreed on a regional ceasefire in southern Syria, an arrangement that both sides said could be expanded and replicated in other parts of the country.

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    Tags:
    moderate Syrian rebels, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), John McCain, Russia, United States, Syria
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