Syria says U.S. halting aid to rebels is step toward ending war

Syria says U.S. halting aid to rebels is step toward ending war
Wed Jul 26, 2017 08:50:19

Syria views a U.S. decision to halt CIA support to rebel groups fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad as a "start" toward ending the six-year conflict, a government minister told Reuters.

(reuters) -- "All these steps are the start to solving the Syrian crisis, and without that there is no solution," national reconciliation minister Ali Haidar said in an interview.

But speaking generally about the conflict, he said what was really needed was for foreign states to completely seal off borders across which arms and fighters have flowed throughout the war, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people.

"As long as there are areas left like open wounds, there will be no solution," he said, without specifying which areas these were.

Haidar also said the government intended to reach more "reconciliation agreements" with insurgents in parts of Syria delineated as "de-escalation zones" under diplomatic efforts led by Russia.

His comments reflected the government's satisfaction with U.S. President Donald Trump's decision, announced by U.S. officials last week, to end the CIA program set up in 2013 to equip and train certain vetted rebels.

The move marks a further blow to the opposition and a boost for Assad, whose position already appeared militarily unassailable. But Haidar said it was more of a U.S. admission of failure than a genuine policy shift.

"All the American attempts to fund and arm and train groups it called moderate factions ... have failed."

The program overseen by the CIA has funnelled aid to rebels in southern and northern Syria, with support from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Some of these states, notably Qatar and Turkey, are widely believed to have backed some rebels outside the CIA channel.

string(188) "[{"id":"1997864","sort":"5061863","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2017/07/20/alalam_636361347389057624_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Trump to end CIA program to arm and train anti-Assad militants"} ]"