Trump cuts assistance to US-backed forces in northern Syria

Trump cuts assistance to US-backed forces in northern Syria
Anti-IS forces in northern Syria have been cut of US assistance, as Trump appears set to withdraw his forces from he country.
2 min read
19 May, 2018
Trump has said he want US troops to withdraw from Syria [Getty]

Donald Trump has withdrawn all assistance to northwest Syria, paving the way for a full US withdrawal from the war-torn country.

Officials told CBS News that Trump ordered millions of dollars in assistance to the local authorities in the country's northwest Syria to be withdrawn.

It follows earlier promises by the president for a quick and complete US disengagement from Syria. 

The funds were marked for the opposition province of Idlib and the once Kurdish-held Afrin canton, which recently fell under Turkish and Free Syrian Army control.

It included efforts to strengthen civil society and fight extremism. This was done through programmes aiding local police, education, media, activist groups, which have been seen as a bulwark against radicalism in the region.

The Islamic State group have been defeated in northwest Syria, with Trump promising a speedy US withdrawal from the country once the war against the militants is completely over.

He has already ordered a freeze on millions of dollars in aid to groups such as The White Helmets, as the US reassess where its money is spent.

Although one source told the US news agency that the recent cuts will have a "limited impact", others disagree.

"My primary concern is they are basically saying we are willing to let al-Nusra do what it wants and we are leaving 3 million internationally displaced people at the mercy of al-Nusra. It is a massive security risk that is completely misunderstood," a contractor working in northwest Syria told CBS

"That means we have a whole generation of people who will grow up under al-Nusra society without any challenge to that."

Turkey is also expected to welcome the move. Around 2,000 US troops are based in northern Syria, which has been a source of friction with Ankara.