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WASHINGTON has boosted funding for the pseudo-humanitarian White Helmets group who operate mainly in jihadist areas of Syria pledging a $5 million handout at a Brussels conference on Thursday.
Funding for the controversial group was announced by US ambassador James Jeffrey at the Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region conference in the Belgian capital.
US State Department spokesman Robert Palladino praised the White Helmets as “heroic first responders” claiming their actions had saved more than 114,000 lives since the war on Syria began.
According to Washington the money will support “vital life-saving operations” carried out by the group along with the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM), a UN body created in late 2016 to investigate – but not prosecute – alleged atrocities in Syria after 2011.
News of the cash injection comes as US President Donald Trump seeks to shift spending priorities away from humanitarian aid projects to military programmes.
Mr Trump’s proposed budget will allocate just $40 billion to diplomacy and foreign aid and a whooping $750 billion to military programmes.
Part of the budget allocation sees the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) set to receive $300 million with a further $250 million planned to “secure the borders” of Syria’s neighbours.
The White House announced it was pulling its funding of the White Helmets last May only to overturn their decision the following month, handing the group $6.8 million.
The White Helmets remain controversial with allegations they have been involved in staging chemical attacks in Syria in order to lay the ground for the justification of intervention to remove President Bashar al-Assad.
Russia’s UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia said the group should “be on the United Nations designated terror list” after the submission of a report accusing them of organ harvesting in December 2018.
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