Saudi Arabia pledges $100 mln to rebuild Syria’s northeast

Saudi Arabia to invest $100 million in SDF-held northeastern Syria

Brett McGurk, the US special presidential envoy overseeing the fight against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, said Saudi Arabia had contributed $100 million and United Arab Emirates had pledged $50 million toward the new funding.

The decision took into account "the President's guidance on the need to increase burden sharing with allies and partners", she said, adding that the State Department will redirect these funds to support "other key foreign policy priorities".

The kingdom said the 88-million-euro contribution would go towards a US-backed campaign to "stabilise" the one-time IS bastion and to help ensure the jihadists can not re-emerge as a threat.

Syria on Friday denounced Saudi financial support to the US-led global coalition's role in northern Syria, stressing that such move indicates Riyadh's compliance with the USA administration at the expense of the Saudi people.

The bulk of the amount was pledged earlier this year under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had "redirected" the funds after coalition partners committed $300 million of their own, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement on August 17.

"This decision does not affect USA humanitarian assistance".

Confirming Taiwan's involvement, MOFA spokesperson Andrew Lee (李憲章) said Taiwan in June pledged a donation of US$1 million for demining, which it hopes will lead to Syrian refugees being able to return and rebuild their hometowns as soon as possible.

"The United States has ended the ridiculous 230 Million Dollar yearly development payment to Syria".

It will also not affect the training of local forces by United States troops, as the funding for that mostly comes from the Department of Defense.

Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee concurred, calling the move "astonishingly shortsighted".

Yet the funding cut is regarded as the latest United States financial retreat from Syria. "Once again, Donald Trump is helping Vladimir Putin achieve his dream by propping up the Assad regime", the group of Democrats said on Twitter.

President Trump made his intentions clear earlier this year when he declared the US forces would be pulling out of Syria "very soon", saying they would be coming back to the USA where they belong.

US officials said the administration was notifying Congress Friday it would not spend some $200 million that had been planned for Syria programs and would instead shift that money elsewhere.

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