US frees up fraction of frozen Syria funds

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration has freed up a fraction of some $200 million in frozen funds for Syria stabilization programs, leaving nearly $195 million in limbo.

The State Department said Thursday that President Donald Trump had authorized $6.6 million to support the White Helmets, a Syrian civil defense organization, and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, a U.N. agency that is investigating war crimes committed during the conflict.

Trump has vowed to end the U.S. presence in Syria as soon as the fight against the Islamic State group is complete and has demanded that other donors contribute to reconstruction efforts.

The $200-million pledge was made by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in February. Tillerson, who had advocated for maintaining the U.S. presence, was fired shortly after he made the pledge.