Trump on ‘Moderate’ Syrian Rebels: ‘We Have No Idea Who These People Are’

By Matthew Hrozencik | November 15, 2016 | 4:34pm EST
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (AP photo)

( – President-elect Donald Trump suggested that he would end U.S. backing of “moderate” rebel groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in part because “we have no idea who these people are.”

“My attitude was you’re fighting Syria, Syria is fighting ISIS, and you have to get rid of ISIS. Russia is now totally aligned with Syria, and now you have Iran, which is becoming powerful, because of us, is aligned with Syria. …

“Now we’re backing rebels against Syria, and we have no idea who these people are,” Trump said Friday in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Trump stated in the same interview that continued U.S. support of Syrian rebel groups could cause tensions with Russia, which has aligned itself with the Assad regime.

“We end up fighting Russia, fighting Syria,” Trump pointed out.

However, Syrian groups that oppose Assad -  including the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) - have reportedly already reached out to Trump’s staff asking for his help in protecting civilians caught in the cross-fire.

“[The US must] establish peace in our region and to find fair and swift solutions for the threat of terrorism... especially the state terrorism practiced by the Syrian regime against the Syrian people,” said Riad Hijab, head of the SNCs High Negotiations Committee.

An advisor to President Assad reportedly said that the Syrian president is ready to cooperate with Trump.

Back in March, Trump told the New York Times: "I thought the approach of fighting Assad and ISIS simultaneously was madness, and idiocy. They’re fighting each other and yet we’re fighting both of them. You know, we were fighting both of them.

"I think that our far bigger problem than Assad is ISIS, I’ve always felt that. Assad is, you know I’m not saying Assad is a good man, ’cause he’s not, but our far greater problem is not Assad, it’s ISIS."


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