09:20 GMT17 January 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The Trump administration intends to provide $5 million to the White Helmets and the United Nations investigating mechanism in Syria, State Department spokesperson Robert Palladino said in a statement on Thursday.

    "At the direction of the President, subject to congressional approval, the United States intends to provide $5 million for the continuation of the vital, life-saving operations of the White Helmets in Syria and in support of the UN’s International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism," the statement said.

    This comes after earlier in the day US Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey announced the US initiative to fund the White Helmets and IIIM  at the third Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region, according to the spokesperson.

    "The United States Government strongly supports the work of the White Helmets," he said. "They have saved more than 114,000 lives since the conflict began, including victims of [Syrian President Bashar] Assad’s vicious chemical weapons attacks."

    READ MORE: Journo on White Helmets Resettlement to UK: They're Not Even British Citizens

    Meanwhile, the Syrian government denies using chemical weapons in the conflict, and has insisted that the White Helmets themselves carried out such attacks to justify foreign intervention. Russia has also cited evidence of the group's involvements in attacks, saying that claims about the alleged use of chemical weapons were aimed at justifying external military action.

    Palladino also accused the Syrian government and Russian forces of targeting the White Helmets.

    "The Syrian regime and Russia deliberately target White Helmets’ centres and volunteers; since 2013 more than 250 White Helmets have been killed — many in so-called 'double-tap strikes' — and 60 White Helmets’ centres have been damaged or destroyed by Russian and regime airstrikes and the regime," he said.

    The White Helmets claims to be a group of volunteer rescue workers, who allegedly carry out rescue operations in rebel-held Syria and help local residents prepare for attacks. However, Russian officials have been pointing to that the organization has been participating in the staging of false-flag chemical attacks, aimed to prompt new aggressive actions against Damascus.

    READ MORE: Russia's Envoy Accuses White Helmets of Plotting New False-Flag Chemical Attacks

    Apart from that, the Foundation for the Study of Democracy presented to UN the evidence of White Helmets being engaged in the forced removal of human organs as well as theft and corruption in Syria, as people evacuated by the organization did not return alive.

    READ MORE: White Helmets Engaged in Looting, Human Organ Trafficking in Syria — Watchdog


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