Hundreds Of White Helmets Evacuated From Syria To Jordan

H8 syria white helmets israel

Founded in 2013, the Syria Civil Defence, or White Helmets, is a network of first responders who rescue wounded in the aftermath of air strikes, shelling or blasts in rebel-held territory.

Two officials familiar with the plans said Thursday that the U.S., Britain and Canada are spearheading the evacuation that would transport members of the White Helmets group to transit camps in neighboring countries.

The Syrian government has denounced the evacuation of hundreds of members of a Western-backed "aid group" to an Israeli military camp, saying what Tel Aviv did further revealed the true nature of the so-called "White Helmets", which stands accused of working with Takfiri militants and staging false-flag gas attacks in the Arab country.

"We pay tribute to the fearless and selfless work that White Helmets volunteers have done to save Syrians on all sides of the conflict".

President Bashar al-Assad has called the White Helmets part of Al Qaeda in Syria.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said they were acting on a request from the United States, the UK and other European nations.

Raed Saleh, head of the White Helmets, also known as the Syrian Civil Defense, said a number of volunteers and their families were evacuated from a risky, besieged area.

Amman had originally given permission for 800 to enter Jordan.

Those successfully evacuated included about 100 White Helmets, with the rest family members.

Syrian authorities have long described the Civil Defense search-and-rescue group, which are popularly known as the White Helmets, as a terror organization.

The White Helmets have enjoyed backing and received finances and training from the United States and other Western nations for years.

Canada previously resettled 25,000 Syrian refugees between September 2015 and February 2016.

"It was the only alternative for our trapped volunteers who would otherwise have faced detention or death at the hands of the Syrian regime and its ally Russian Federation", it said.

This was the first such Israeli intervention in Syria's lengthy civil war, now in its eighth year.

Smoke following the explosions in Syria is seen from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights near the Israeli Syrian border, July 19, 2018. German weekly magazine Bild, which broke news of the evacuation and published footage of buses used to transport the Syrians across Golan, said 50 of them would be granted asylum by Berlin.

According to Netanyahu, Israel insists that the 1974 Agreement on Disengagement with Syria be respected the way it was before the civil war in Syria broke out.

Britain, Germany and Canada have agreed to take the White Helemts - who dig people out from rubble after airstrikes - within three months.

Evacuation plans were accelerated after last week's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels.

Israeli forces were expecting around 800 people, but just over half of that number is believed to have crossed the border.

"Jordan is willing and encouraging the return when tension calms down because the refugees constitute a heavy burden on the kingdom in the light of the worldwide community's inability to cover the costs", she said. The area houses several defense ministry facilities.

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