US 'freezes funding' to Syria's White Helmets, but group vow to continue operations

US 'freezes funding' to Syria's White Helmets, but group vow to continue operations
The White Helmets civil rescue team, whose workers help rescue Syrians after air raids, have had funding from the US government frozen, the group has announced.
2 min read
05 May, 2018
The White Helmets are on the front lines of rescue efforts [Getty]
The White Helmets have vowed to continue search and rescue operations in Syria, following reports that the US government had cut funding to the organisation.

Raed al-Saleh from the group told Al Jazeera that the White Helmets "did not receive any direct funding from the US or any other country" and its operations will continue in Syria.

"The White Helmets receives funding from organisations and associations," Saleh added.

"Our work has not been disrupted and all the projects we are working on will not be halted. Our volunteers are still operating on the ground."

Reports that US President Donald Trump had ordered a $200 million freeze on aid to Syria, allegedly also covered funding to the White Helmets.

This is something the White Helmets denied, which said it does not receive money directly from governments.

"We have not officially been informed of an end to the funding," Raed al-Salah, one of the heads of the White Helmets, said in the statement.

"There are no new changes to the Civil Defence's [White Helmets] work or its projects."

But it added that some funding had been cut.

The frozen aid "included some indirect support for the White Helmets as well as rebuilding and recovery funds for others," the White Helmets said on Twitter. "We hope all Syria funds will resume soon."

The White Helmets operate in opposition areas of Syria, which have been subjected to intense bombing by Syrian regime and Russian aircraft.

They have saved thousands of people, digging civilians out of bombed out homes.