Free Syrian Army envoys have urged US officials at talks in Washington to resume a suspended CIA program of military aid if it is serious about challenging growing Iranian influence in Syria, according to Syrian opposition figures.
Mustafa Sejari, a senior official in Syria's mainstream rebel group, said the envoys described to US officials the damaging impact of President Donald Trump's decision last year to stop equipping and training certain rebel groups.
Trump's move was driven by a wish to focus on fighting Islamic State militants and to improve relations with Russia, as well as a lack of results from the CIA's support of the FSA, US officials suggested."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 told Reuters by telephone from Washington.
"With every US 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,"Sejari said.
"We asked for the resumption of aid and explained the dangers of leaving moderate FSA forces without support."
Sejari said the delegation's meetings had included members of the US Congress and officials from the White House, and they hoped for sessions with Defense Department and State Department officials.