Free Syrian Police are courageous and selfless people | Letters

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Panorama’s programme ‘Jihadis You Pay For’ was hugely misleading, writes Dr Henry Smith

Panorama’s programme Jihadis You Pay For (Report, 5 December) was hugely misleading. As the person who led the international team that designed the Ajacs programme attacked by Jane Corbin, I would like to make the following points. Firstly, like their counterparts, the White Helmets, the vast majority of the Free Syrian Police are and have been the most courageous and selfless people any of us could meet. They are often all that’s left behind when the regime and its backers have destroyed neighbourhoods, bombing and gassing residents without mercy. I have known many FSP who have fallen in the line of duty protecting their people. I am therefore deeply saddened that, while identifying single instances of failings, no recognition was given to this bravery.

Secondly, the support for the FSP was directly in line with the UK policy for Syria, which was to support the moderate opposition and to help maintain basic services for those abandoned and attacked by their government. This is not some clandestine project funding armed groups to wage war. The fact that there appear to have been a small number of cases of support being diverted is deeply regrettable. But the question is to what extent it is possible to provide services to vulnerable populations in a war of an intensity unlike anything we have seen for decades, without there being attendant risks that some of that support might go astray. I am biased perhaps, but I found the Panorama programme one dimensional and deeply damaging to the essential services that these brave people continue to try to deliver in what surely must be the hardest neighbourhood in the world.
Dr Henry Smith
Woodborough, Wiltshire

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