Behind the Sudden Death of a $1 Billion Secret CIA War in Syria

(New York Times) Mark Mazzetti, Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmidt - Ending one of the costliest covert action programs in the history of the CIA, President Trump agreed with the recommendation of agency director Mike Pompeo to shut down a four-year-old effort to arm and train Syrian rebels. The rebel army was by then a shell, hollowed out by more than a year of bombing by Russian planes and confined to ever-shrinking patches of Syria that government troops had not reconquered. Reports that CIA-supplied weapons had ended up in the hands of a rebel group tied to al-Qaeda sapped Congressional support for the program. The program did have periods of success, including in 2015 when rebels using tank-destroying missiles, supplied by the CIA and Saudi Arabia, routed government forces in northern Syria. But by late 2015 the Russian military offensive in Syria was focusing squarely on the CIA-backed fighters. By the final year of the Obama administration, the program had lost many supporters in the White House - especially after the administration's top priority in Syria became battling the Islamic State rather than seeking an end to Assad's government.

2017-08-04 00:00:00

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