The Syrian American Council received with dismay the news that President Trump has ended CIA support to moderate, vetted anti-Assad rebels. While the CIA program was always too weak to tip the scales, it had symbolic importance as a program designed to aid the fight against Assad and concretely helped pro-democracy Free Syrian Army fighters to defend their neighborhoods and families.
With the cancellation of the CIA program, many moderate opposition groups that the US trained and supported will lie exposed to attacks by Al-Qaeda extremists or be forced to disband for lack of funds. CIA-backed rebels have scored crucial victories against ISIS in recent months and are now helping defend a U.S. training base from Iran-backed foreign extremists. News of the cancellation also comes as Syrian opposition groups are locked in a fierce battle with the Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate in Idlib Province, a battle sparked by the “Green Idlib” campaign to restore the democratic spirit of the Revolution and that included protesters expelling Al-Qaeda from Saraqib town.
“The Free Syrian Army is a stabilizing force for the region that has battled ISIS, the IRGC, and Al-Qaeda while giving civilians a chance to self-govern outside the shadow of Assad’s barbaric police state,” said Mirna Barq, President of The Syrian American Council. "Withdrawing support from moderate Syrian rebels is a foolish move that would create new terror threats and force a deepened USinvolvement in Syria for years to come.”