Hundreds Of White Helmets Evacuated From Syria To Jordan

24 July, 2018, 22:46 | Author: Donnie King
  • Israel evacuates 800 Syrian 'White Helmets' to Jordan

Raed Saleh, the head of the Syrian Civil Defense, as the White Helmets are formally called, confirmed the evacuations took place but would not elaborate on the numbers of people who got out.

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

Syrian regime troops have launched an offensive on parts of the Golan not occupied by Israel, where opposition forces are still present.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi tweeted Sunday that the country had originally planned to evacuate 800 Syrians but the actual number settled at 422.

US officials had said they were finalizing plans to evacuate several hundred Syrian civil defense workers and their families from southwest Syria as Russian-backed government forces closed in on the Quneitra province.

"We are in a bus with around sixty people young men and families and about to leave and become uprooted from our homes", said Maher Ali, 38, an activist who decided with his family to leave than risk retribution for his long record of peaceful opposition to President Bashar al Assad's authoritarian rule.

Syrian state TV Al-Ikhbariya reported the Israeli evacuation of the White Helmets, calling it a "scandal" and saying "terrorist groups" now have "zero options".

The rescuers and their families are expected to be resettled in Europe and Canada.

The White Helmet members and their families will be held in a "restricted area" of Jordan.




Jordan, which has closed its borders to refugees, says it had permitted the United Nations bring in 800 rescue workers and their families into the country.

"White Helmets were specifically sought out during those evacuations", the source familiar with Sunday night's operation said, pointing to cases of rescue workers being "detained, tortured and forced to make [false] confessions.and subsequently disappeared".

He wrote on Twitter that the White Helmets will release an official statement on the matter on Monday.

Its activation came after Israel on two separate occasions this month fired Patriot missiles at incoming drones from Syria. "The accusations against us have grown", he added, "and there is a new one-that we collaborate with Israel".

The Syrian government and Russian Federation have labelled the White Helmets as foreign "agents" and have accused them of staging scenes of alleged chemical weapons attacks.

"Fantastic news that we - United Kingdom and friends - have secured evacuation of White Helmets and their families - thank you Israel and Jordan for acting so quickly on our request", tweeted British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Israeli media identified the Syrians as belonging to the White Helmets organisation. It says refugees should not be coerced into returning.

The Israeli army said it had evacuated the rescue workers overnight "due to an immediate threat".

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