White Helmet 'heroes' flee from attacks through Israel

25 July, 2018, 02:03 | Author: Carlos George
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State Department on July 22 issued a statement saying it "welcomes the safe evacuation of more than 400 members of the Syrian Civil Defense" - also known as the White Helmets. "More than 250 White Helmets have been killed in the war since 2013".

I have, in the past, spoken to Syrian officials who claimed the White Helmets had links to MI6, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Gulf States - they were, it was claimed, a conduit for weapons and "terrorist" resistance against President Assad.

The original plan had been to evacuate 800 people, but only 422 made it out as operations were hampered by government checkpoints and the expansion of Isil in the area, another source said.

A Jordanian foreign ministry spokesman confirmed to Reuters that the civilian workers were transferred to his country.

Syria and its Russian allies have launched an offensive on rebels in the sensitive southwestern border zone.

The latest disagreement arose in a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russia's top diplomat and top general, dispatched to Jerusalem as Syrian government forces routed rebels near the Golan.

"It's our country and we have a right to live in it in safety", he said, however adding he was among a minority who wished to remain.

Israel has also said it would demand strict adherence to the 1974 disengagement deal with the Syrian army on the Golan, threatening a "harsh response" to any attempt by Syrian forces to deploy in that zone.

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The Associated Press first reported on Friday that USA officials were finalizing plans to evacuate several hundred Syrian civil defence workers and their families from southwest Syria as Russian-backed government forces closed in on the Quneitra province, along the Golan Heights frontier.

Trump did not mention the operation during a series of tweets on Sunday. Syrian rebel forces had hoped to oust dictator Bashar al-Assad. They are authorized to remain in Jordan for a maximum of three months.

The group has been financed by public donations, as well as funding from foreign governments.

The unprecedented operation was spearheaded by the US, Canada, and UK.

White Helmets head Raed Saleh said the evacuated workers had arrived in Jordan after being "surrounded in a unsafe region".

A second group of White Helmets and their families has been unable to reach the border, a Canadian government source told AFP. It was not immediately clear if that amounted to the same 50 people.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a joint statement with the International Development Secretary that the "brave and selfless" volunteers required "immediate protection".

On Monday, the White Helmets called on the global community to help those left behind in southern Syria. They were the first to break news of a suspected chemical weapon attack on a hospital in Eastern Ghouta in April.



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