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US gave $6 million to Syrian opposition

THE US State Department has been secretly financing opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, even as the Obama administration has tried to reach out to the autocratic leader’s regime.

The Washington Post, citing previously undisclosed diplomatic documents provided by WikiLeaks, reported yesterday that one of the US-funded organisations was London-based Barada TV, a satellite channel that beams anti-government programming into the country. Barada’s chief editor, Malik al-Abdeh, is a co-founder of the Syrian exile group Movement for Justice and Development. The station has been broadcasting since April 2009, the Post reported, but has ramped up its operations to cover the protests in Syria as part of a long-standing campaign to overthrow Mr Assad. The channel is named after the Barada River, which flows through Damascus, the capital.

The leaked documents show that the US has provided at least $US6 million to Barada TV and other opposition groups inside Syria. According to the report, the US money for Syrian opposition figures began flowing under president George W. Bush after he effectively froze political ties with Damascus in 2005.

The funding has continued even while the Obama administration has reached out to Mr Assad, hoping to persuade him to change its policies regarding Israel, Lebanon, Iraq and support for extremist groups. In January, the US stationed its first ambassador in Damascus for five years.

The Post said it was not clear from the WikiLeaks documents whether the US was still financing Mr Assad’s opponents, though they showed funding had been set aside up to September last year.

Continue Reading this interesting article via theaustralian.com.au

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