US General confirms ending of program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria

(CNN) The senior US general has verified that the US has ended a categorized CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria.

Appearing at the Aspen Security Forum on Friday, Common Raymond Thomas, head of US Unique Operations Command, said the decision had not been made to appease Russia which facilitates Assad.
“From at least what I know about that will program and the decision to end this, absolutely not a sop to the Russians, ” Thomas said. “It has been I think based on an assessment from the nature of the program, what we are going to trying to accomplish, the viability from it going forward and it was a tough difficult decision. ”

John Brennan, who served since director of the CIA under Leader Barack Obama was also asked about your decision at Aspen by CNN’s Elise Labott. He did not talk about the particular specifics of the program, but this individual said the anti-Assad rebels are worthy of US support.
Thomas went on to offer extended responses on a number of national security plus military matters at Aspen.

To the fight against ISIS, Thomas made clear the united states military understands President Donald Trump wants to do more than just defeat the particular terror group.
“The description of our mission is incredibly clear. It is now to annihilate ISIS, ” he said. “We almost all got the message, in fact , we have been pressing as hard as we may. ”
Commanders have pointed to initiatives to isolate and kill international fighters so they cannot escape. Jones estimated the coalition has wiped out 60, 000 to 70, 1000 ISIS fighters, but the US coalition has not confirmed that number.
Thomas offered unusually honest public remarks for a US four-star general about the capabilities of Iraqi Kurds when they first began to battle ISIS in 2014.
“I was personally unhappy with the Peshmerga, ” he stated. “Again I spent 15 weeks in Mosul, so I knew the particular Kurds very well, they talked a great game, it was a pretty army, this didn’t fight very well when press came to shove. So we’ve needed to bring them up to a level of competency that you simply would’ve have hoped was much better beforehand but they are now contributing quite actively. ”
Thomas observed how the combat ISIS has grown tougher in some aspects and noted that Iranian makes and Iran backed groups are actually a factor, saying “it’s also a good indescribably complex environment when we really are a coffee-breath close to Shia Popular Mobilization Forces riding around us, traveling in M1 tanks that we provided the particular Iraqi army back in the day. inch
Thomas actually revealed that during a trip to Erbil, Iraq, his plane happened to be left next to the plane of Maj. Style. Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian leader of the Quds Force.
“We bump into all of them everywhere, ” Thomas said from the Iranians.
For the question of the fate of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Thomas said he or she still is relevant as the “iconic” mind of ISIS. But he additional that “we haven’t heard through him lately, he’s been a good utterly ineffective leader by the assessment, if at all. ”
“I monitor the same reviews that everybody else does that he is dead, you know that he’s less than dead yet, he might be southern of Raqqa. The bottom line is we will obtain him eventually, it’s not safe just for him on this earth for exactly what he’s done and what his business has done, ” Thomas said.
Thomas was among three senior US figures to convey that Baghdadi is still alive upon Friday, along with Secretary of Condition James Mattis and National Counterterrorism Center Director Nick Rasmussen.
Mattis told reporters, “I think Baghdadi is living. I think that he is alive plus I’ll believe otherwise when we understand we’ve killed him. But wish going after him but we suppose he’s alive”
Rasmussen also appeared in Aspen, saying he’s “seen nothing that could lead me to believe that the innovator of ISIS has been removed from the particular battlefield. ”
Thomas went on to express, “We have absolutely dismantled their network, I mean everyone who proved helpful for him initially is lifeless or gone. Everybody who walked to the plate the next time is lifeless or gone. Down through a system where we have killed a traditional estimate of 60, 000 in order to 70, 000 of his supporters. ”
Jones also publicly disclosed that, previously, US troops have come close to obtaining Baghdadi.
“In fact sometimes we’ve been nearer than we know, it’s just the vagaries of combat I think and counterterrorism targeting, ” he said. “There were points in time where we are going to particularly close to him, unfortunately there was some leaks about what we were as much as at that time. ”