Israel Evacuates Syrian 'White Helmets' Volunteers

Israel Evacuates Syrian 'White Helmets' Volunteers

This handout video grab released by the Israeli Army on July 22, 2017, shows an evacuation operation of Syrian White Helmet rescuers and their families through Israel, in an unknown location, en route to Jordan after facing the threat of advancing Syrian regime forces in certain regions.

"The civilians were subsequently transferred to a neighboring country".

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.

"Canada, working in close partnership with the United Kingdom and Germany, has been leading an worldwide effort to ensure the safety of White Helmets and their families", she said.

Jordan's Foreign Ministry confirmed that it had allowed 800 Syrian citizens to enter the country and said they would travel on to Britain, Germany and Canada within three months.

Civil defense workers in that area turned down requests for an interview about the evacuations of their colleagues in the south calling the matter "too sensitive".

Syrian Civil Defence volunteers, also known as the White Helmets, and Syrian Red Crescent members evacuate a wounded woman following a reported airstrike that targeted the Idlib bus station on January 18, 2017.

A spokesman for the Israel Defence Forces said the operation was an "exceptional humanitarian gesture".


The United States once armed the southern FSA rebels, but told them at the start of the Russian-Syrian offensive not to expect its intervention.

A number of those evacuated were from the White Helmets volunteer rescue group, known as the Syrian Civil Defense. While Israel has maintained a policy of nonintervention regarding the war, it has provided humanitarian assistance to civilians congregating near the Syria-Israel border since June 2016 as part of its "Operation Good Neighbor".

Over 400 "White Helmet" rescue workers and their families evacuated Syria with the help of Israel and other Western powers on Sunday, according to multiple reports. Evacuation plans were accelerated after last week's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels.

SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad's official news agency, called it "Israeli air aggression". Thousands of civilians had taken shelter near the frontier to escape the government offensive. They operate mostly in rebel-held territory where almost all civil services have collapsed.

The rockets fell inside Syrian territory and were part of internal fighting, a military statement said.

The deal brings the area back under government control and lets Syrian army brigades return to where they were stationed before Syria's seven-year-old conflict - posts near a 1974 demilitarized zone with Israel on the Golan frontier. Jordan hosts at least 650,000 registered Syrian refugees, according to the United Nations, but Amman says a similar number of undocumented Syrians are also in the kingdom.

The source requested anonymity as the Israeli military had yet to carry out a formal investigation.

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