Citing a worsening security situation, the British government has announced it is ending certain non-humanitarian aid programs inside northern Syria’s rebel territory. The largest cut is to the Free Syrian police force.
British officials are trying to downplay the move, and are rejecting speculation that this is related to investigations into such programs linking nominally independent local police forces to jihadist rebel factions.
The Foreign Office decided that the aid programs were just “no longer sustainable,” and that has rebels and pro-rebel activists deeply critical, warning that the shift will ultimately limit British influence over the rebel-held region.
The BBC had investigated the Free Syrian police and found that despite the funding coming from Britain, almost all control over the group was actually held by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which is to say, Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate.