US ‘Freezes Funding’ for White Helmets after Douma Chemical Attack Allegations Fall Apart
The US State Department's support for the White Helmets operating in Syria is "under active review," a CBS News report said.
The group reportedly hasn't received funding in weeks, but neither has it received formal confirmation that Washington's financial assistance has come to a complete halt. This would mean a significant blow for the group, as the US money accounts for about one-third of the controversial group's overall funding.
An internal State Department document cited by CBS said that its Near East Bureau needed confirmation from US President Donald Trump's administration by April 15 in order to approve funding for the White Helmets. If that wasn't received, the department would initiate "shut-down procedures on a rolling basis."
The report comes amid major controversy surrounding the White Helmets, after residents of Douma, Syria, testified in The Hague at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW]. The hearing centered on the alleged chemical attack that was used as a justification for the April 14 strikes by the US, Britain, and France.
In a press conference following the hearing, hospital staff and 11-year-old Hassan Diab - who is seen in troubling White Helmets footage following the alleged attack - said there was no sign of a chemical incident at the time and that the White Helmets' video with children was apparently staged.
The footage, which showed Diab and other children being hosed down with water, was the only publicly available "evidence" that the attack ever took place.
Still, Trump and his British and French counterparts deemed it sufficient proof to launch over 100 missiles on Syria on April 14, claiming that Syrian President Bashar Assad was behind the alleged attack.
The three allies were so keen to bomb Syria that they refused to wait for the results of an OPCW investigation before doing so.
Although the White Helmets says it acts solely as a makeshift emergency response team in a time of crisis, claiming to have heroically saved more than 70,000 lives in war-torn Syria, others disagree with its motives.
Footage from Syria repeatedly showed members of the White Helmets assisting terrorist groups, while multiple accounts from civilians suggested they only helped "their own" and used civilians caught in the battle only for publicity.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team