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Washington Post Reports On Secret U.S. Efforts To Deliver Humanitarian Aid To Syria

The Washington Post reports on U.S. efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to war-torn Syria, noting, “Out of concern for the safety of the recipients and the delivery staff, who could be targeted by the government if their affiliation to the United States were known,” the mission has been operating covertly. “In the heart of rebel-held territory in Syria’s northern province of Aleppo, a small group of intrepid Westerners is undertaking a mission of great stealth,” the newspaper writes, adding, “Living anonymously in a small rural community, they travel daily in unmarked cars, braving airstrikes, shelling and the threat of kidnapping to deliver food and other aid to needy Syrians — all of it paid for by the U.S. government.” The article continues, “The unpublicized aid effort, which the Washington Post was invited to witness on the condition that it not identify the agency involved, the names or nationalities of its staff, or the precise locations in which the workers operate, illustrates the dilemma confronting the Obama administration as it cautiously explores ways of stepping up support for the Syrian opposition.”

“So secretive is the operation, however, that almost none of the Syrians who receive the help are aware of its American origins,” according to the Washington Post, which details the humanitarian aid the U.S. is providing. “Syrians who are aware of the American contributions in Aleppo say the discreet efforts of the U.S.-funded aid agency have made a difference in the areas it targets,” the newspaper notes, adding, “Meanwhile, Jabhat al-Nusra, which last week publicly confirmed its allegiance to al-Qaeda, is receiving much of the credit for the help Syrians are receiving.” According to the article, “[t]he administration is looking at ways of branding the aid but has not figured out how to safely do so, said Nancy Lindborg, assistant administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance at USAID.” However, “[i]t is unclear whether raising awareness of U.S. aid contributions would make a difference,” the newspaper writes, adding, “Syrians who support the opposition want weapons and a no-fly zone to deter government airstrikes more than they want food or medicine, said Abu Omar, who heads the relief committee in a provincial Aleppo town that receives American food aid” (Sly, 4/14).

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