I agree that Aleppo is a tragedy, but Western powers aren’t impotent [“The impotence of Western powers,” Opinion, Dec. 20]. Please remember that President Barack Obama funded, via executive order, the CIA to arm and train Syrian rebels. He took a stand against Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

The result had tremendous impact. Some of the rebels trained by the CIA were actually Islamic State members, and after training they left to rejoin ISIS armed with weapons and tactical knowledge. By arming the rebels and ISIS, the war escalated. When a war escalates, more people die. That is very potent.

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During the conflict, a cease-fire was agreed upon, and the rebel factions attacked each other in bids for power. Please think about that. Why? Because it demonstrates that the rebels the CIA armed can’t be trusted to lead without bias if Assad is ousted.

After the rebels attacked each other, ISIS attacked the weakened rebel forces and took possession of a large weapons arsenal. So ISIS got stronger, and the rebels weaker as a result of the lack of unity among the rebels.

Did any other Western government arm rebels? If the rebels were not armed would there be all-out war? Not likely. The war’s impact on Aleppo resulted in the refugee crisis that has flooded Europe.

James Cronin, Mineola