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Friday, May 4, 2018

U.S. Freezes Funding for Syrian "White Helmet" Humanitarian Group

State Dept. freezes funding for famed Syrian humanitarian group: report

05/03/18 09:32 PM EDT

Source: The Hill | BY BRETT SAMUELS

© Getty

The State Department has reportedly frozen funding for a humanitarian group working in Syria, threatening the group’s effectiveness.

CBS News reported Thursday that the State Department has put funding for the White Helmets group under "active review" as it determines which foreign aid programs to continue funding.

The White Helmets have essentially served as emergency responders in the war-torn country. Meanwhile, the U.S. had provided roughly one-third of the group’s total funding, CBS reported.

"This is a very worrisome development," an official with White Helmets told CBS about the funding freeze. "Ultimately, this will negatively impact the humanitarian workers ability to save lives."

U.S. officials are reportedly working to see if there are alternative funding sources to cover some of the groups in need.

The move comes as President Trump more broadly weighs the future of U.S. involvement in Syria.

Trump in March ordered the State Department to freeze $200 million in recovery funds for Syria. Trump has also indicated he’d like to wind down U.S. military involvement in the region.

The U.S. carried out targeted missile strikes in coordination with France and the United Kingdom last month in response to a chemical weapons attack on civilians in the Syrian town of Douma.

However, Trump has repeatedly said in recent weeks that he’d like to bring U.S. troops home from the country “very soon.”

He has also suggested that Middle Eastern nations should have to contribute financially and put troops on the ground in Syria in order to help maintain stability in the region.

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