U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups, WikiLeaks reveals

  • $6million for Syrian exiles to help fund TV channel
The U.S. Government has secretly dished out $6million to help Syrian opposition groups WikiLeaks has revealed.
Documents show the State Department has been funnelling cash to London-based satellite TV channel Barada TV, made up of a group of Syrian exiles, since 2006 to cover mass protests in the country and finance activities inside Syria as part of a campaign to overthrow President Bashir Assad.
Violence has been sweeping the nation for the past month as President Assad faces his deepest crisis in 11 years in power amid growing demands for greater freedom from Syrians who are still ruled under ‘emergency’ laws imposed in 1963.
Flashpoint: TV channel Barada TV has been in receipt of cash from the U.S. since 2006 to cover mass protests
Flashpoint: TV channel Barada TV has been in receipt of cash from the U.S. since 2006 to cover mass protests
Human rights groups estimate the death toll to be in the region of 200 which Syrian authorities blame on armed gangs.
Barada TV, named after the Barada River which flows through the Syrian capital Damascus, has links to the London-based Syrian exile network Movement for Justice.
Doctor turned dictator: Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and his wife Asma
Doctor turned dictator: Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and his wife Asma
Cash from the U.S. for Syrian opposition figures first arrived under President George W. Bush after political ties with Damascus were frozen in 2005, the Washington Post reported.
This has continued under President Barack Obama despite his efforts to rebuild relations with the leader.
In January, the White House posted an ambassador to Damascus for the first time in six years.
It is not known if the groups are still being funded by the U.S. but diplomatic cables reveal money was definitely allocated in September last year.
The previously undisclosed cables show that U.S. Embassy officials in Damascus became worried in 2009 when they learned that Syrian intelligence agents were raising questions about U.S. programs.
An April 2009 cable signed by the top-ranking U.S. diplomat in Damascus at the time read Syrian authorities "would undoubtedly view any U.S. funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime change.
"A reassessment of current U.S.-sponsored programming that supports anti- factions, both inside and outside Syria, may prove productive," the cable said.
The Post said the State Department declined to comment on the authenticity of the cables or answer questions about its funding of Barada TV.
Violence has been sweeping the nation for the past month as President Assad faces his deepest crisis in 11 years in power
Violence has been sweeping the nation for the past month as President Assad faces his deepest crisis in 11 years in power
Mass movement: Despite the threat of reprisals, thousands of anti-government protesters have been calling for wider democracy
Mass movement: Despite the threat of reprisals, thousands of anti-government protesters have been calling for wider democracy
 
 
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