STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

US funding for Syrian White Helmets rescue group in question amid funding freeze

The US government recently froze funding for the Syrian search and rescue group known as the ...

Posted: May 4, 2018 6:22 PM
Updated: May 4, 2018 6:22 PM

The US government recently froze funding for the Syrian search and rescue group known as the White Helmets -- a group celebrated internationally for their live-saving work but condemned by the Syrian government and its closest allies.

The move is part of an effort initiated by President Donald Trump earlier this spring to reassess broader US spending in the Syrian conflict, which effectively put a halt on $200 million in funding across the board.

"We are actively reviewing our current Syria assistance programs at the President's request, including U.S. support for the White Helmets," a State Department official told CNN Friday, noting that the United States has provided over $33 million to the group since 2013.

"The US jointly supports the White Helmets with other donors and we expect their operations to continue as a result of additional multilateral donations," said the official. "The President has been clear that partners and allies should assume a larger role in stabilizing Syria."

In an interview with CBS News, the chairman of the White Helmets, Raed Al-Saleh, said the freeze came as a shock.

"Ultimately, this will negatively impact the humanitarian workers ability to save lives," he is quoted as saying.

But in a subsequent statement issued Friday, Saleh said the group does not receive direct funding from the United States, but rather, "from organizations and associations."

"Our work hasn't been disrupted and all the projects we are working on will not be halted," he added, "and our volunteers are still operating on the ground."

Earlier this year, Saleh visited Washington, DC, where he and his group were celebrated for their work in Syria.

Speaking to reporters during that trip, Saleh said he'd received promises from friendly governments -- including the United States -- to continue providing critical funding.

The US State Department hosted Saleh for meetings during his visit, and later conducted a screening of the Oscar-nominated documentary "Last Men in Aleppo," which shows their search and rescue efforts in that city during the Syrian government's siege.

The agency's spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said at a subsequent press briefing in April that the administration was "very grateful for all the work that the White Helmets continues to do on behalf of the people of their country and on behalf of the U.S. Government and all the coalition forces."

"They're doing incredible work in rescuing in some cases, and in other cases it's recovery efforts," Nauert added. "They're an incredible group of individuals."

The White Helmets were nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 for their work in Syria.

But the Syrian government and its allies have long vilified the group. The Russian government, in particular, has called the White Helmets "terrorists," and accused them of staging recent chemical attacks linked to the regime.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 941120

Reported Deaths: 15315
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1282511983
Lake633041097
Allen53609758
Hamilton43827447
St. Joseph41906590
Elkhart33545490
Vanderburgh30383448
Tippecanoe26820249
Johnson23609417
Hendricks22250341
Porter21737346
Clark17409229
Madison17366384
Vigo16108281
Monroe14466191
LaPorte14311239
Delaware14070221
Howard13865272
Kosciusko11418135
Hancock10841165
Warrick10674177
Bartholomew10542168
Floyd10430205
Wayne9959226
Grant9130204
Morgan8865160
Boone8389111
Dubois7710123
Dearborn762289
Henry7608130
Noble7413101
Marshall7362128
Cass7176117
Lawrence6957153
Shelby6584111
Jackson656785
Gibson6156107
Harrison603786
Huntington600195
Montgomery5805105
DeKalb574291
Knox5494104
Miami542488
Putnam536768
Clinton533665
Whitley524953
Steuben497268
Wabash483592
Jasper479160
Jefferson470092
Ripley454277
Adams444068
Daviess4169108
Scott405865
White391857
Clay390857
Greene388392
Decatur385296
Wells384983
Fayette374278
Posey359941
Jennings353156
Washington332047
LaGrange321375
Spencer317835
Fountain316555
Randolph312888
Sullivan307449
Owen283863
Starke280064
Fulton277553
Orange275859
Jay254837
Perry251652
Carroll243729
Franklin239338
Rush234130
Vermillion233250
Parke219820
Tipton209655
Pike207639
Blackford168334
Pulaski163551
Crawford146018
Newton144345
Benton142516
Brown135346
Martin128217
Switzerland125810
Warren114616
Union96911
Ohio79711
Unassigned0479

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1365800

Reported Deaths: 21596
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1522221560
Cuyahoga1344852327
Hamilton976051320
Montgomery670271141
Summit562091047
Lucas50900863
Butler47417655
Stark41580976
Lorain31567532
Warren30001331
Mahoning26963639
Clermont25628292
Lake24585417
Delaware22313145
Licking20487241
Fairfield20420221
Greene20309272
Trumbull19866509
Medina19796287
Clark17879328
Richland16314234
Portage16130229
Wood15681208
Allen14115256
Miami13786253
Muskingum12641152
Wayne11946238
Columbiana11708241
Tuscarawas10953269
Marion10725148
Pickaway10465129
Scioto10324127
Erie9747171
Ross9436176
Lawrence8755125
Hancock8458141
Ashtabula8317185
Geauga8173156
Belmont8140187
Jefferson7527172
Huron7423128
Union731851
Washington7183120
Athens697165
Sandusky6848134
Darke6756136
Knox6671122
Seneca6358137
Ashland5948113
Auglaize587188
Shelby5727101
Brown564171
Mercer557890
Defiance5483101
Madison543371
Crawford5425114
Highland541581
Fulton530683
Clinton525580
Logan512182
Preble4994110
Putnam4833106
Guernsey470364
Williams459282
Perry449852
Champaign445964
Ottawa436884
Jackson425362
Pike388843
Morrow383851
Fayette375853
Coshocton374766
Adams360675
Hardin359069
Gallia347356
Holmes3259108
Henry324668
Van Wert314670
Hocking301769
Wyandot280658
Carroll262652
Paulding242243
Meigs213942
Monroe189749
Noble169340
Morgan165829
Harrison157940
Vinton138118
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
Mostly Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 52°
Angola
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 54°
Huntington
Mostly Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 52°
Decatur
Mostly Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 52°
Van Wert
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 54°
Sunshine and warmer air return to round out the work week, but the warm-up is brief.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events