Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani attends an interview in Doha, Qatar November 26, 2016. REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon
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Qatar will continue to arm Syrian rebels even if Donald Trump ends U.S. backing for the multinational effort, Doha's foreign minister said in an interview, signaling its determination to pursue a policy the U.S. president-elect may abandon.Some Western officials worry that Gulf states, dismayed at effective Russian air support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, could supply such weapons.Qatar is a top backer of rebels fighting Assad, working alongside Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Western nations in a military aid program overseen by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency that provides moderate groups with arms and training.Trump has signaled opposition to U.S. support for the rebels, indicating he could abandon them to focus on fighting Daesh which controls land in eastern and central Syria.Qatar and other Gulf states believe the nationalist Sunni rebels are needed to build a stable Syria.Assad's government has accused Gulf states of backing what it calls terrorist groups in the country.Assad, a member of the minority Alawite sect, is dependent on military support from Russia, Iran and Shiite militias in the fight with the Sunni insurgency.
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