White Helmets flee to Jordan

Marsha Scott
July 24, 2018

Hundreds of Syrians, including members of the volunteer civil defense group the White Helmets, have been evacuated by Israel.

The "White Helmet" volunteers, who work to save civilians affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria, were reportedly trapped in the southwestern part of the country after an offensive by Syrian leader Bashar Assad's military.

The White Helmets group has advertised itself as a volunteer force and Syria's "civil defense".

The Syrian government on Monday condemned a multilateral operation to evacuate hundreds of rescue workers from the war-torn country as a "criminal process" meant to de-stabilize Syria.

The Syrian government is now accusing those remaining of collaborating with Israel and threatening that they "will be executed" for their dealings with the country that Syria has long warred with.

Britain said the operation was possible due to the joint diplomatic efforts, hailing the efforts of the White Helmets volunteers to save lives in opposition areas.

Many of these displaced persons are opponents of the Assad-regime and they are "extremely nervous" according to a Syrian humanitarian aid worker in Quneitra. Syria and Russian Federation deny responsibility for such attacks and charge that documented instances of chemical weapons use have been staged by rebels themselves.

They have reclaimed the Syrian side of the Jordanian border, and taken back the frontier with the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

A non-Jordanian source quoted in the report said the expansion of the Islamic State in the area, along with checkpoints, hampered the rescue.

In a sign of heightened tensions, Israel launched two David's Sling interceptor missiles at rockets the Israeli military later said fell inside Syrian territory - part of the internal fighting there.

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Hunt described the White Helmets as "the bravest of the courageous", adding that "in a desperate situation this is at least one ray of hope".

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said on Sunday giving the rescue workers shelter "is a humanitarian obligation", adding that more than 250 White Helmets have been killed in the war since 2013.

Jordan's official Petra news agency said on its website the kingdom "authorised the United Nations to organise the passage of about 800 Syrian citizens through Jordan for resettlement in Western countries".

The group receives funding from a number of governments, including Britain, Germany and the U.S., but also solicits individual donations to purchase equipment such as its signature hard hats.

What are the White Helmets?

Syria's official state-run SANA news agency reported that the site suffered only "material losses".

The evacuees were driven to the border with the Golan Heights and taken on from there by Israeli troops to Jordan.

The evacuees are being assisted by the UN Refugee agency in Jordan pending global resettlement, the secretaries said.

Israel's vigilance was underscored by the launch of its latest, USA -backed missile shield against rockets that it said were fired from within Syria but which fell short of the Golan lines. The Syrian rockets... landed inside Syrian territory.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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