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Businessmen whose companies are under U.S. and EU sanctions have been paid substantial sums by the UN mission, as have government departments and charities – including one set up by the president's wife, Asma al-Assad, and another by his closest associate, Rami Makhlouf, The Guardian has reported. The UN says it can only work with a small number of partners approved by President Assad and that it does all it can to ensure the money is spent properly. "Of paramount importance is reaching as many vulnerable civilians as possible," a spokesman said. "Our choices in Syria are limited by a highly insecure context where finding companies and partners who operate in besieged and hard to reach areas is extremely challenging." Read also Syrian rebels advance south of Jarablus in Turkey-backed operation However, critics believe the UN mission is in danger of being compromised..............