Syrian Rebel Delegation in Washington Asks for More Training and Equipment

Envoys from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are part of talks in Washington, where they are pressuring U.S. officials to resume the suspended CIA program which was giving them military aid in the form of weapons and training.

According to Syrian opposition leaders, if the U.S. is serious about challenging the growing Iranian influence in Syria, then they should continue with the aid.

Reuters reported that Mustafa Sejari, a senior official in Syria’s mainstream rebel group, said the envoys described to U.S. officials the damaging impact of President Donald Trump’s decision last year to stop equipping and training certain rebel groups.

Trump’s decision to suspend the military aid program was made so a better focus can be given on fighting the Islamic State militants, as well as a lack of results from the CIA’s support of the FSA.

Another reason for the suspension was the need Trump to improve relations with Russia, which is backing up the government in Syria while the U.S. is siding with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“We endorse President Trump’s statements about the need to confront Iranian hegemony in the region. It is time to turn words into action. Until now on the ground it’s the Iranian militias that are expanding without serious resistance,” Sejari said in Reuters interview conducted by telephone.

“With every U.S. statement about the need to confront Iran’s influence, Iran has been expanding in Syria while moderate forces that are backed by Washington see aid being dried up and are weakened,” he said.

“We asked for the resumption of aid and explained the dangers of leaving moderate FSA forces without support.”

Members of the U.S. Congress and officials from the White House met with the Sejari delegation to discuss the future of the SDF.  Sejari said that they hoped for a meeting with officials from the Defense Department and State Department.

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