Trump Ends CIA’s Secret Program to Provide Syrian Rebels With Aid

FILE PHOTO: Free Syrian Army fighters fire an anti-aircraft weapon in a rebel-held area of Aleppo, Syria December 12, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail/File Photo

US President Donald Trump has ended the CIA’s clandestine programme to provide weapons and supplies to Syrian rebel groups, officials have said.

The programme began in 2013 as Mr Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, decided to put pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to stand down.

The decision to halt it was made almost a month ago, by which time the flow of arms had already slowed significantly.

The officials said the move was part of an effort to improve ties with Russia.

Russia’s military support has helped Mr Assad hold on to power during the six-year civil war that has left more than 300,000 people dead and displaced 11 million others.

The Washington Post newspaper was the first to report the end of the CIA weapons programme on Wednesday night.

Mr Trump made his decision after a meeting in the Oval Office with National Security Adviser H R McMaster and CIA Director Mike Pompeo and before he held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Germany on 7 July, according to the Post.

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SOURCE: BBC News