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By Miriam Raftery

Photo: UK Independent Twitter feed

July 24, 2017 (Raqqa, Syria) -- Women in Raqqa, Syria are burning their burqas and men are shaving off their beards in celebration of being liberated from the Islamic State, or ISIS, by U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish fighting group. British media reports photos and interviews of joyful, freed Syrians who had been forced to endure ISIS occupation of their city.

The U.S. has been providing arms to the Kurdish fighters through covert operations, and recent media photos have shown U.S. special forces vehicles in the region.

But now President Donald Trump, following a controversial private meeting with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, has announced that the U.S. will end its covert program of arming Syrian forces that are opposing Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria, where civil war has long been raging along with the battle against ISIS, the Washington Post reports.

Trump’s action has drawn strong objections from Republican Senator John McCain, who despite recovering from brain cancer surgery spoke out as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  McCain called the action “playing right into the hands of Vladimir Putin.”

McCain added, “A key pillar of American strategy must be the removal of Assad from power as part of an end to the brutal conflict in Syria, which has fueled ISIL’s growth through its cruelty, extended malign Iranian influence, and undermined broader regional stability.”

Former CNN producer Frida Ghitis has similarly called Trump’s action a “gift to Vladimir Putin.”

While the people of Raqqa celebrate escaping the cruelty of Islamic State terrorists, Trump’s decision is expected to leave Assad, a brutal dictator who has bombed and gassed his own people, in power indefinitely, as Russia has long wanted.

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