UK to axe funding for some Syrian rebel groups

UK to axe funding for some Syrian rebel groups
Britain will stop funding a community-led police force in rebel-held northern Syria, in a symbolic move suggesting the UK concedes rebels are soon to lose out against the Assad regime.
2 min read
20 August, 2018
The community-run Free Syrian Police provided security in opposition-held parts of Syria [Getty[

The UK's development ministry has said it is to end funding for some aid schemes in opposition-held areas of Syria, Reuters reported on Monday, in a symbolic move that suggests the UK recognises that rebels are soon to concede defeat against the Russian-backed Assad regime.

A government spokesperson told Reuters that the situation on the ground in opposition-held Idlib has become "increasingly difficult" to deliver non-humanitarian programmes, which they also called "unsustainable".

They added the UK will, "continue to deliver vital support to help those most in need and to improve security and stability in the country."

In a follow-up report, The Guardian reported the UK plans to stop funding the opposition-run Free Syrian Police (FSP) force in September, which was funded by the UK's Access to Justice and Community Service aid programme.

The UK government spent £152 million ($193.85 million) on humanitarian programmes in Syria for the financial year 2017-2018, with approximately one third going to Idlib, the largest remaining pocket of opposition-held territory.

The UK has supported the rebels since the early stages of the civil war, which adds to the significance of the decision to stop funding the FSP.

Britain also increased its aid as well providing armoured vehicles and training to Syrian rebels in 2013.

As of last year, the community-led police force consisted of some 3,000 mostly unarmed officers, according to The Guardian.

The UK government denied claims the funding had been withdrawn after a BBC documentary claimed control of the police force had been handed over to extremist groups.

The conflict in Syria has killed an estimated 511,000 people. More than 5.5 million have been forced to flee the country and over 6.5 million are displaced internally.

All estimates say the Assad regime is responsible for the majority of civilian deaths.

Despite the fact the United States adopted a policy in 2011 that supported the removal of Bashar al-Assad, little has been done in support of finding a much-needed democratic alternative.

Washington and its Western allies, including the UK, have borne witness to countless civilian massacres at the hands of Assad's forces, backed by Iran and then Russia.

The ruthless offensives waged on opposition-held territory, that have seen thousands of civilians killed - have formed the basis of Assad's strategy to reclaim land.

The residents of Idlib, many of whom have been displaced from other previously rebel-held areas, are fearing a large-scale military offensive in the near future as Assad vows to retake all of Syria.

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