U.S. Secretly Backed Syrian Opposition Groups, Cables Released By WikiLeaks Show

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In this citizen journalism image made on a mobile phone and acquired by the AP, Syrian anti-government protesters hold Arabic banners that read: "Syrian media from the taxes of the citizens", right, and "If the price of freedom is a shroud, it is with me," as they march during a demonstration in Banias, Syria, Sunday, April 17, 2011. Gunmen opened fire during a funeral for a slain anti-government protester Sunday, killing at least three people on a day when tens of thousands of people took to th | AP

The State Department has secretly financed Syrian political opposition groups and related projects, including a satellite TV channel that beams anti-government programming into the country, according to previously undisclosed diplomatic cables.

The London-based satellite channel, Barada TV, began broadcasting in April 2009 but has ramped up operations to cover the mass protests in Syria as part of a long-standing campaign to overthrow the country’s autocratic leader, Bashar al-Assad. Human rights groups say scores of people have been killed by Assad’s security forces since the demonstrations began March 18; Syria has blamed the violence on “armed gangs.”

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