Trump administration instructs CIA to halt support for anti-Assad rebels in Syria

The White House has instructed the Central Intelligence Agency to halt military support to armed groups that are associated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a group opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Some believe that the move indicates a change in American policy under United States President Donald Trump. But Syrian rebel commanders say they believe the move is temporary, and that military aid will be restored. For several years, the CIA has Text and other forms of assistance to rebel groups in Syria, such as the New Syrian Force, which operate under the umbrella of the FSA. Aside from training, the assistance has included light and heavy ammunition, including antitank missiles, mines and grenades. However, it appears that the CIA was instructed nearly a month ago by the White House to freeze all assistance to these rebel groups. Correspondents from the Reuters news agency said they confirmed the change in policy by speaking to senior rebel commanders from five armed groups operating under the FSA.

These commanders told Reuters that they had not been given any official reason for the sudden termination of all CIA assistance. The change coincided with the change of guard at the White House, from Barack Obama to Donald Trump. Some in Washington, as well as some members of rebel factions in Syria, are concerned that the change in the CIA’s stance might denote a broader policy shift in the White House. During his election campaign, Mr. Trump said repeatedly that he would end America’s overt and covert support for the FSA and would focus instead on defeating the Islamic State. But the rebel commanders themselves told Reuters that the freeze in CIA support was due to a wave of renewed attacks against them by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, a Sunni militant group that was previously affiliated with al-Qaeda. The rebels said that the CIA was concerned that weaponry provided to the FSA would end up in the hands of jihadist militants, so it temporarily halted its support until Jabhat Fateh al-Sham could be pushed back by FSA forces. Reuters published comments by two anonymous officials who were familiar with the CIA’s operations in Syria. They told the newspaper that the freeze of the CIA’s program had “nothing to do with US President Donald Trump replacing Barack Obama in January”. Additionally, said Reuters, Mr. Trump’s policy in Syria remains unknown. Several newspapers and news agencies contacted the CIA asking for comments, but the agency declined all requests on Wednesday.

Ian Allen

Η CIA φέρεται να αποφάσισε την ελαχιστοποίηση της βοήθειας που λαμβάνουν οι λεγόμενοι αντικαθεστωτικοί αντάρτες του Ελεύθερου Συριακού Στρατού (FSA: Free Syrian Army), μέχρι να ξεκαθαρίσει η κατάσταση στο έδαφος, καθώς ο κίνδυνος χρήματα και σημαντικός οπλισμός να καταλήξει στα χέρια επικίνδυνων ισλαμιστικών στοιχείων είναι υπαρκτός. Η επιστροφή στη λογική για τη CIA ασφαλώς πιστώνεται στον νέο διευθυντή, Μάικ Πομπέο, αν και θα μπορούσε να εντάσσεται σε μια συνολικότερη στρατηγική με στόχο της εξεύρεση κοινού εδάφους για τη διευθέτηση της σύγκρουσης στη Συρία με πολιτικά μέσα. Πάντως, το ότι ο περίφημος FSA αποτελεί ένα συνονθύλευμα αναποτελεσματικών «μαχητών» χωρίς εκπαίδευση και επικίνδυνων εξτρεμιστών ισλαμιστών ποτέ δεν αποτελούσε μυστικό. Πλέον, η διαπραγμάτευση αφορά την εμπλοκή αραβικών τακτικών στρατευμάτων στο έδαφος μαζί με την αύξηση των αμερικανικών δυνάμεων, μια απόφαση που φαίνεται σχεδόν προδιαγεγραμμένη, ενώ ο υπεύθυνος των επιχειρήσεων από αμερικανικής πλευράς, επικεφαλής της Κεντρικής Διοίκησης (CENTCOM: Central Command), στρατηγός Τζόσεφ Βότελ, ο αξιωματούχος που «αγρίεψε» στους Τούρκους, αφήνει ανοιχτό το ενδεχόμενο αποστολής αμερικανικής δύναμης επιπέδου ταξιαρχίας.


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