US President Donald Trump has agreed to resume funding for the supposed ‘humanitarian’ White Helmets group in Syria, which apparently has ties to radical jihadist terrorist organizations operating for the destabilization of Syria and the overthrow of the Assad regime, to the tune of $6.6 million.
Part of what makes the White Helmets so heroic in the opinion of the US State Department is the reality that they are considered offensive terrorist linked operatives and therefore may qualify as an opponent of the Syrian government and potential target of Russian airstrikes.
Recently, funding for the White Helmets group was suspended by Washington according to some reports, however, Trump’s present decision to resume such funding for them further demonstrates where the US stands relevant to the conflict in Syria by providing funding for terrorist linked organizations, which had previously accounted for up to one third of their overall funding.
CBS News reports:
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has authorized the release of approximately $6.6 million for the White Helmets, a Syrian civil defense organization, and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, a U.N. agency that is investigating war crimes committed during the Syrian conflict, according to a statement. That accounts for a fraction of some $200 million in frozen funds for Syria stabilization programs — a move that leaves nearly $195 million in limbo.
The White Helmets, formally known as the Syrian Civil Defense, are a group of 3,000 volunteer rescuers who have saved thousands of lives since the Syrian civil war began in 2011. The U.S. had accounted for about a third of the group’s overall funding, but U.S. funding was frozen as the State Department said last month the support was “under active review,” CBS News’ Kylie Atwood reported.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement Thursday that the U.S. government “strongly supports” the White Helmets.
“These heroic first responders have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world and continue to be deliberately targeted by the Syrian regime and Russian airstrikes,” the statement said. “Since 2013, more than 230 of these brave volunteers have been killed while working to save innocent Syrian civilians.”
Nauert’s statement made no mention of the remaining $193.4 million that remains frozen, and officials could not say whether a decision had been made to eliminate it altogether.
Last month, the State Department announced that it had ended all funding for stabilization programs in Syria’s northwest. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants have been almost entirely eliminated from that region, which is controlled by a hodgepodge of other extremist groups and Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government forces.
The $200-million pledge was made by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in February. Tillerson, who had advocated for maintaining a robust U.S. presence in Syria, was fired shortly after he made the pledge at a donors’ conference in Kuwait.
Throughout the Syrian conflict, the White Helmets have run into the collapsing buildings to pull children, men and women out of danger’s way. They say they have saved more than 70,000 lives. CBS News’ Atwood reported last month that they were worried about a long-term funding freeze.
“If this is a long-term or permanent halt, it would have a serious impact on our ability to provide the same intensity and quality of services that we currently provide to civilians,” said Raed Saleh, the group’s leader.
Mr. Trump has vowed to end the U.S. presence in Syria as soon as the fight against ISIS is complete and has demanded that other donors contribute to reconstruction efforts.
The White Helmets are found operating exclusively in areas under the occupation of jihadist terror groups and has no verifiable evidence of ever having carried out civilian rescues, but is known to have conducted activities running diametrically opposed to such an endeavour.
This is the same organization which released the video and allegations of a chemical attack in Syria back in April, which was posted to social media, leading to a coalition effort between the USA, France, and the UK, to conduct military strikes on Damascus and surrounding areas under the control of the Syrian government.