On June 14, US President Donald Trump authorized the United States Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of State to allocate approximately $6.6 million to fund the Syrian Civil Defense, that is known as the “White Helmets,” and the UN’s Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM)
In an official press release, the U.S. Department of State stressed the US support for the controversial Syrian organization and described its acts as “heroic.”
“The United States Government strongly supports the White Helmets who have saved more than 100,000 lives since the conflict began, including victims of Assad’s chemical weapons attacks. 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 U.S. Department of State said in its press release.
The U.S. Department of State suspended its financial support for the White Helmets on May 3. Back then, the US TV channel CBS reported that the Department of State was reviewing its support for the Syrian organization.
The U.S is not the only supporter of the White Helmets, radical groups such as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sahm (HTS), which is labeled by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, also back the organization to facilitate its work. Former leader of HTS Abu Jaber Shaykh and radical Saudi cleric Abdullah al-Muhaysini even stressed their support for the White Helmets in a public video, which was released last year.
— Walid (@walid970721) May 14, 2017
The Syrian organization was also accused by Russia and the Damascus government of covering up militants’ crimes and of staging fake chemical attacks to provoke a U.S. military action against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). The most notable case was the alleged chemical attack in the district of Duma earlier this year.
Most of the US funds will likely find its way to the White Helmets centers in areas controlled by the former branch of al-Qaeda in Syria HTS and other al-Qaeda-affiliated groups. This poses a serious threat, especially that the U.S has no real mechanism to track these founds once they are delivered to the organization.