President Donald Trump, has authorized the delivery of 4.5 million dollars to the Syrian Civil Defense, known as white helmets and which carries out rescue work in areas beyond the control of the Syrian government, amid the controversy over Washington’s policy in the country.
White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham announced today in a statement that Trump approved on Monday the delivery of “$4.5 million in direct support to the Syrian Civil Defense (SCD) to follow up U.S. support for the important and highly valued work of that organization in the country.
“The United States encourages our allies and partners to join us in our support of the DCS and our efforts to protect civilians, religious and ethnic minorities, and other innocent victims of the Syrian conflict,” Grisham said.
The spokeswoman said that during the past eight years of Syrian conflict, so-called “white helmets” have “rescued more than 115,000 people, including many ethnic and religious minorities.
The announcement comes two weeks after Trump sparked heated controversy by announcing that he would withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria just before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched an offensive against Kurdish militias in the area.
Since last Thursday, a ceasefire has been in effect between the Turkish troops and the Kurdish militias, who had until today to leave that border strip, according to the agreement brokered by the United States.
“We hope that the temporary cease-fire, that temporary reduction of hostilities, will become permanent by the end of the afternoon,” White House deputy spokesman Hogan Gidley told reporters today.
While Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Erdogan to negotiate on Syria, the U.S. spokesman said the White House wants to “prevent” Moscow from increasing its influence in the Middle East, but defended the withdrawal of troops from the north of the Arab country.
However, Trump confirmed on Monday that an undetermined number of U.S. soldiers will remain in Syria to protect oil installations and in an area near Israel, while the Pentagon has announced that the 1,000 military retirees from northern Syria will move to western Iraq.
Asked how that fits with Trump’s assertion that he is “returning home” U.S. troops, Gidley said the president wants to do so, but “also wants to ensure stability in the region” and “has a responsibility to protect U.S. officials and interests” there.