ByReuters

Published: 17:37 GMT, 22 November 2014 | Updated: 17:37 GMT, 22 November 2014

By Dasha Afanasieva

ISTANBUL, Nov 22 (Reuters) - The United States pledged anadditional $135 million in aid for the victims of the Syrian waron Saturday, much of it to help the United Nations with afunding shortfall it had warned could force it to scale backfood distribution.

Neighbouring nations have borne the brunt of thehumanitarian crisis sparked by the civil war, which has killednearly 200,000 people and forced more than 3 million to flee.

The money, which brings the total aid given by Washingtonsince the start of the war in 2011 to more than $3 billion, willmainly go to the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), a statementfrom U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's office said.

The Turkish Red Crescent will also benefit.

"The new funding will help feed vulnerable people insideSyria; Syrian refugees in Turkey; and Syrian refugees in othercountries," the statement, released during Biden's visit toTurkey, said.

The U.S. also planned to admit close to 7,000 refugees fromTurkey in the coming year, including Iraqis, Iranians, and agrowing number of Syrians, the statement said, part of a widerprogramme to resettle thousands of the most vulnerable refugeesin the United States.

Aid workers have warned that funding for the refugee crisishas been falling far short of requirements, with the U.N. sayingit may have to slash food rations as a result.

In September, WFP said it would require an additional $352million to continue its work until the end of the year. The U.S.pledge will provide $132.8 million to WFP, the statement said.

Turkey, which has taken in around half of all Syrianrefugees, says it has spent more than $4 billion on its aideffort. Officials have frequently voiced frustration with whatthey see as insufficient help from Western donors. (Reporting by Dasha Afanasieva; Writing by Jonny Hogg; Editingby Nick Tattersall and David Evans)

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