US secretly financing Syrian opposition: Report
Washington: The US government has been secretly financing Syrian opposition groups, including a satellite TV channel beaming anti-regime programming into the country, The Washington Post reported on Monday.
Citing previously undisclosed diplomatic cables from WikiLeaks, the newspaper said the London-based Barada TV channel, which began broadcasting in April 2009, has ramped up operations to cover the mass protests in Syria.
Barada TV is closely affiliated with the Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based network of Syrian exiles, The Post said.
Classified US diplomatic cables show that the State Department has funnelled as much as USD 6 million to the group since 2006, the report said.
Protests calling for greater freedom and sweeping political reform erupted in Syria on March 15, posing an unprecedented challenge to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, in power since 2000.
Assad on Saturday pledged to lift almost 50 years of draconian emergency rule within a week, but the gesture was brushed aside as not enough and was followed by new protests.