SYRIA STABILIZATION Citing more allied cash, US ends some funding

Clay Curtis
August 20, 2018

In a tweet, they said it was an indication of a "lack of U.S. leadership" that is "undercutting United States interests in Syria and around the world".

Syria's Foreign and Expatriates Ministry on Friday condemned Saudi Arabia's support for the country's Kurdish-held northeastern areas, the main operating base for the US-led worldwide coalition against Islamic State (IS).

Consistent with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's contributions to date, this additional $100 million will save lives, help facilitate the return of displaced Syrians, and help ensure that Daesh can not reemerge to threaten Syria, its neighbours, or plan attacks against the global community. Most of that money, initially pledged by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in February, had been on hold and under review since he was sacked in March.

The U.S. State Department on Friday said that the fund of some 230 million U.S. dollars targeted to support the stabilization initiative in Syria has been ordered to be redirected, ramping up speculation that it would withdraw from the country.

Nauert said that Friday's decision would not affect "life-saving, needs-based humanitarian assistance to vulnerable Syrians" or US support for the White Helmets or the United Nations mechanism.

Still, the move is a sign the administration is heeding President Donald Trump's demand to end USA involvement in Syria and reducing its commitment there.

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Brett McGurk, the special White House envoy to the coalition against ISIS, said the extremist group has been cleared from some 99 per cent of its former territory in Syria and that preparations for the final phase of the campaign are being made.

US officials insisted that Washington's efforts would be focused on defeating ISIS in Syria.

The State Department also announced that former US ambassador to Iraq Jim Jeffrey will serve as a special adviser to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Syria overseeing talks on a political transition in that country.

The enduring defeat of ISIS is a top priority of this Administration and of the State Department.

US officials said they were able to make the $230 million reduction because they had raised $300 million for recovery efforts in northeastern Syria from other countries, which were part of the coalition battling ISIS militants in the area.

We will continue to provide life-saving, needs-based humanitarian assistance to vulnerable Syrians, support for the White Helmets and the UN's International Impartial and Independent Mechanism to hold the Assad regime accountable for serious crimes, as well as equipment and other measures to counter the effects of chemical weapons in northwest Syria.

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