Trump Ends CIA Program to Arm Syrian Rebels

Program Had Been Frozen Back in February

US officials say that President Trump has decided to formally end the CIA program to arm Syrian rebel factions, a program that has been active for years, and highly criticized for having seen a lot of the US provided arms ending up in the hands of al-Qaeda and other Islamists.

This arms smuggling scheme had long-standing problems, and was frozen earlier this year because the rebel factions the US was supporting have been fighting one another increasingly, and have been less and less interested in fighting either ISIS or the Syrian government.

This move won’t end the US arming of the Kurdish YPG, as this scheme is wholly independent from the CIA program, and is being run directly by the Pentagon. The factions getting arms from the CIA are mostly based in Idlib, with some smaller groups along the Jordan border.

President Trump has been seen as sour on the CIA program since before he took office, complaining that the US didn’t have good enough intelligence on who the rebels are, and should focus on fighting ISIS. Still, it took quite a few months to finalize this decision.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.