August 19, 2018 / 11:40 PM / a month ago

Britain to stop some aid for Syrian opposition in rebel-held areas

(Reuters) - The UK government said on Monday it was ending funding for some aid programmes in rebel-held areas of Syria.

“As the situation on the ground in some regions has become increasingly difficult, we have reduced support for some of our non-humanitarian programming, but continue to deliver vital support to help those most in need and to improve security and stability in the country,” a UK government spokeswoman told Reuters in an emailed statement.

The Times newspaper had earlier reported that the attempt to create an independent police force would be scrapped from September, while projects funding local councils were being reviewed and would likely be halted by the end of the financial year.

The report added that the Foreign Office and Department for International Development had determined the aid programmes in the northwestern parts of Syria to be “unsustainable”.

The UK government said it had spent 152 million pounds ($193.85 million) on humanitarian programmes in Syria for the financial year 2017-2018.

Britain had increased its aid as well as supply of armoured vehicles and training to Syria’s opposition in 2013.

Syria’s northwest is the last major region still held by rebels.

The conflict in Syria has killed an estimated half a million people, driven more than 5.5 million people out of the country and displaced over 6.5 million within it.

In 2011, the United States adopted a policy that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must leave power. But Washington and its Western allies, including Britain, have subsequently watched Assad’s forces, backed by Iran and then Russia, claw back territory and secure his position.

(This version of the story has been refiled to fix the date of the story.)

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Cooney

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