President Trump has put an end to a covert CIA program that armed and trained rebel fighters in Syria, the Washington Post reports. The death of the program, which began in 2013, is seen both as an acknowledgement that Assad is unlikely to be removed from power and an indication of Trump’s willingness to work with Russia in Syria.
Anonymous sources told the Post that Trump’s decision was made nearly a month ago, before his bilateral meeting with Putin at the G20 summit in Germany. At that meeting, Trump and Putin brokered an agreement to support a ceasefire in parts of Syria near its borders with Jordan and Israel. The end of the CIA program was not a condition of the ceasefire, sources told the Post.
One anonymous official currently working in the government panned the decisions, telling the Post that “Putin won in Syria.” Another suggested that the end of the rebel training will make Syria more dangerous.
The apparent concession to Assad remaining in power comes just three months after Trump sought to punish him with airstrikes for using chemical weapons. Also in April, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Assad had “no role” in governing Syria and Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said there’s no solution to the problem in Syria that involves Assad remaining in power.