The U.S. has secretly funneled millions of dollars over several years to fund anti-government projects in Syria, according to newly disclosed diplomatic cables leaked to the Washington Post.
Over the past four years, the State Department has contributed as much as $6 million to the operators of a satelite channel critical of the Syrian government. Money was set aside at least through September 2010, according to the cables, but it's not clear if the funds are still being provided.
The country's leader, Bashar al-Assad, over the weekend promised to lift the emergency law prohibiting protests, which have begun going on for months, but human rights activists are skeptical it will ease the regime's crackdown, which has already killed hundreds.
In 2006, the Bush administration announced about $5 million to “accelerate the work of reformers in Syria,” according to the Post, but dissidents wouldn't take the money for fear of arrest or retaliation, according to a U.S. Embassy cable.
The State Department did not comment on the veracity of the cables. “There are a lot of organizations in Syria and other countries that are seeking changes from their government. That’s an agenda that we believe in and we’re going to support,” a spokeswoman told the Post.