US President Donald Trump has ended the CIA's programme to supply weapons to Syrian rebel groups, the Washington Post has reported.
The clandestine programme began in 2013 when former president, Barack Obama, increased pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside.
According to the Post, US officials said the move was part of an effort to improve Russian relations.
Earlier this month the US shot down a pro-Syrian government drone after it fired at coalition forces, leading to Russia's defence ministry saying it will treat US-led coalition planes and drones in Syria as targets.
At the time, Washington stated the US would "do what we can to protect our interests."
More recently, the US shot down a manned Syrian fighter jet.
The move to end the CIA’s arms programme is said to be a decision made by President Donald Trump nearly a month ago.
Rebels Caught Off Guard
Reuters quoted an opposition official describing the decision as a complete surprise, saying that they had “had heard nothing about this.”
Gen. Tlass al-Salameh of Osoud al-Sharqiya, a rebel group affiliated with the Free Syrian Army told the Washington Post they feel betrayed:
“It feels like we are being abandoned at a very difficult moment.
“It feels like they only wanted to help when we were fighting [the Islamic State].
“Now that we are also fighting the regime, the Americans want to withdraw.”