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Trump administration releases funding for Syria's 'White Helmets'

Trump administration releases funding for Syria's 'White Helmets'
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The United States will release some $6.6 million in previously frozen funding for a humanitarian aid group in Syria, the State Department announced Thursday.

The move comes over a month after the Trump administration froze funding for the Syrian Civil Defense – known as the "White Helmets" – a group of volunteer first-responders that provides aid to war-ravaged areas of Syria. 

The funding, which comes from the State Department and USAID, is intended to help provide the White Helmets with equipment, vehicles and other resources. 

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In the past, the U.S. has typically provided about a third of the White Helmets' funding.

The decision to release the funding came a day after the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the international chemical weapons watchdog, determined that sarin and chlorine were very likely used in a pair of chemical attacks in northern Syria in 2017.

Part of the funding will also go to the United Nation's International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, which is charged with investigating and prosecuting crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Trump believes Kushner relationship with Saudi crown prince a liability: report Christine Blasey Ford to be honored by Palo Alto City Council MORE ordered the State Department in March to freeze $200 million in recovery funds for Syria as he weighs the future of the United States' role in the country.

In addition to providing humanitarian aid, the U.S. has also been working to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), though American troops have primarily been working in advisory roles.

In March, Trump declared that the U.S. "would be coming out of Syria very soon," foreshadowing a possible withdrawal from the country, which has been ravaged by civil war for more than seven years. He has also suggested that other countries in the Middle East should contribute more to Syria.