The UK Government is halting funding for support of governance and justice in opposition-held northwest Syria.

The stated reason for the end to the Access to Justice and Community Service program, with assistance for the Free Syria Police Force, is that operations are too risky as pro-Assad forces threaten an offensive on the opposition’s last major area in Syria — Idlib, western Aleppo, and northern Hama Provinces.

Support of local councils is being reviewed and is likely be halted by the end of the financial year, according to Government sources.

See Syria Daily, August 19: Is Russia Backing Away from Pro-Assad Offensive on Idlib?

Government officials said the program was under review because of the high-risk environment and said it had become difficult to deliver. They maintained that the UK is now focused on providing medicines, medical equipment, and water and sanitation support.

A UK Government spokesperson said:

The UK is supporting thousands of vulnerable Syrians living in the north of the country by helping children to stay in school and securing jobs. This is in addition to providing lifesaving emergency aid for millions of vulnerable people.

As the situation on the ground in some regions has become increasingly difficult, we have reduced support for some of our non-humanitarian programming, but continue to deliver vital support to help those most in need and to improve security and stability in the country.

Last week, Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt announced an additional £10 million ($12.75 million) for emergency assistance and medical support for Syrians who have fled to Idlib from other parts of the country.

See Syria Special: Laying the Foundations for A “Credible Transition”

Idlib’s population is now an estimated 2.5 million people, many of whom have been displaced by pro-Assad attacks and forced removals.

In 2017-2018, UK aid to Syria was £152 million ($194 million), of which more than a third was delivered to Idlib. Officials said the assistance reached more than 600,000 people.