The United States not only paid to arm and train “moderate Syrian rebels” as part of a CIA program that did much more to aid ISIS than it did to fight it, but it also reportedly paid the rebels monthly salaries.
The Washington Post cited its infamous anonymous U.S. officials in a report on Wednesday, which claimed that President Trump “has decided to end the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, a move long sought by Russia.”
While the Trump Administration has yet to confirm the news, it is important to remember that the United States’ efforts to train and equip “moderate Syrian rebels” were originally introduced by the Obama Administration in 2013 as a means to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
When reporting on the suspected change in policy, mainstream media outlets were quick to follow the Washington Post by crediting Russia—not for helping in the fight against ISIS, but for influencing the decision to let Assad stay in power. The New York Times wrote, “But the decision is bound to be welcomed by the Russians.” USA Today described the move as a “victory for Assad, Russia and Iran.” And The Hill reported that this was “a victory for Russia, which has called for the move for years.”
While a report from Financial Times described Russia as “Assad’s main backer,” and said that the country has “long pushed for the US to end support,” it added another element to the story by taking a look at the Syrian rebels who “have clung to a program of CIA assistance as a symbol of US support in their battle against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.”
Financial Times reported that these rebels claim “their CIA interlocutors had not confirmed any change” to the policy that was originally set by the Obama Administration, seeking the overthrow of Assad.
“Until now, nothing is confirmed. There have been no changes on the ground. When we spoke to the concerned parties [in the operations room] they were also surprised at the news,” Hassan Hamadeh, commander of the Division 101 rebel group, told FT. “Co-ordination is ongoing, and everything has been happening normally.”
Another rebel commander reportedly said that while “U.S. support had been waning for months,” the rebels “had been given their salaries as normal last month.”
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The idea that the CIA is paying monthly salaries to the “moderate Syrian rebels” to fight against Assad—even when many of them are going on to join ISIS—is not a new concept.
Russian President Putin alluded to the idea in 2014, when he called out the Obama Administration for arming and training “the Syrians that were fighting Assad,” and then noted that both the “moderate rebels” and the “ISIS militants” are mercenaries, often fighting for the side that pays them the largest salary.
“Another threat that President Obama mentioned was ISIS. Well who on earth armed them? Who armed the Syrians that were fighting with Assad? Who created the necessary political information and climate that facilitated this situation? Who pushed for the delivery of arms to the area? Do you really not understand who is fighting in Syria? They are mercenaries mostly. Do you understand they are paid money? Mercenaries fight for whichever side pays more. So they arm them and pay them a certain amount. I even know what theseamounts are. So they fight. They have the arms. You can’t get them to return the weapons of course, at the end. Then they discover elsewhere pays a little more…so they go fight there. Then they occupy the oil fields.”
As The Free Thought Project has reported, Israel was exposed for secretly paying these so-called rebels to protect oil sites in the Golan Heights that are used for profit by investors such as Jacob Rothschild, Rupert Murdoch, and Dick Cheney.
In the same fashion, Putin noted that in the areas where ISIS is profiting from oil—and the United States is looking the other way and choosing to bomb areas filled with civilians instead—the Islamic State tends to offer higher salaries, and as a result, “the rebels from ‘civilized’ Syrian opposition forces immediately join ISIS, because they pay more.”