The Trump administration is reportedly pulling assistance from northwest Syria as it seeks to set the U.S. up for a swift withdrawal from the country once the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is defeated.
CBS News reported Friday that the U.S. will stop providing tens of millions of dollars to stabilize areas of northwest Syria that have been cleared of ISIS control, a decision made following an interagency process in recent weeks.
That funding supported efforts to counter violent extremism, strengthen independent society and advance education in the region, among other things, according to the report.
The funding cutoff in northwest Syria makes it the first part of the war-torn country that the U.S. is officially disengaging from, though Washington will still provide humanitarian aid.
"$200 million of stabilization assistance for Syria is currently under review at the request of the President," a State Department official told CBS News.
"Distinct from that amount, U.S. assistance for programs in northwest Syria are being freed up to provide potential increased support for priorities in northeast Syria, as will be determined by the outcome of the ongoing assistance review, including the D-ISIS campaign and stabilization efforts."
The decision came after President TrumpDonald TrumpWendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Senate needs to confirm Deborah Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy — Now Former acting Defense secretary under Trump met with Jan. 6 committee: report MORE ordered a review of U.S. assistance to Syria, and officials determined that the aid to the northwestern part of Syria would have little impact on the long-term future of the country, CBS News reported.
Some of the money could be shifted to other things, according to CBS News, but those decisions have not been finalized.
Trump announced in March that the U.S. would withdraw from Syria "very soon." But his top national security advisers have cautioned against pulling out of the country too quickly, because of concerns that ISIS could crop back up in areas where militants had previously been booted.
ISIS has lost about 95 percent of the territory that it once held, but is holding on fiercely to its remaining pockets of land. Most of Syria is under the control of the Syrian government, although rebel groups have maintained enclaves in the country, as have terrorist groups like al Qaeda and al Nusra.