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Colombia Downplays Role Of CIA In Killing Rebels

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Colombia's Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon (L) speaks during a joint press conference with the Minister of Public Security of Costa Rica Mario Zamora (R), held at the Ministry of Public Security, in San Jose, on May 27, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Hector RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia's government is downplaying a newspaper report that a covert CIA program helped it kill two dozen rebel leaders.

Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said on Monday that cooperation with the US intelligence and special forces has been going on for some time and is widely recognized as having been instrumental in helping break the backs of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

The Washington Post on Sunday detailed features of a CIA program that boosted Colombia's ability to eavesdrop on FARC communications and transform regular munitions into GPS-guided "smart bombs" that were used against high-priority FARC targets.

The multibillion-dollar CIA program was funded secretly and separately from $9 billion in mostly military aid that the U.S. has provided to Colombia over the past decade.