Published: Tue, July 24, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Israel evacuates 800 Syria White Helmets to Jordan: army

Israel evacuates 800 Syria White Helmets to Jordan: army

Assad considers the group to be a terrorist organisation because it works in areas controlled by jihadi rebels.

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

The White Helmets, a group of some 3,000 volunteers sponsored by other humanitarian groups in the United States and Canada, provides search and rescue services in response to bombing and evacuations of civilians from danger areas, and also provide food, psychological support and other assistance.

"The civilians were evacuated from the war zone in Southern Syria due to an immediate threat to their lives".

"The White Helmets have saved over 115,000 lives during the Syrian conflict, at great risk to their own", Jeremy Hunt, the British foreign secretary, and Penny Mordaunt, the U.K.'s global development secretary said in a joint statement.

The Syrian government managed to get full control over a strategic territory at the border with Jordan following the operation.

The evacuations were of White Helmets and their families.

But despite multiple attempts to cross through what is now government-held territory in the western Daraa countryside, Abu Muhannad couldn't reach the evacuation point in time.

Another White Helmets volunteer, Mohammad Abdallah, told CNN he was told to cross to the Golan Heights without their families, "which was something rejected by us because the retribution by the Syrian regime and its allied militias is a bigger (risk to) our families". With the only remaining road available to them cut off, Abu Muhannad and his family had no way to proceed.

"They told us nothing is certain", Abu Muhannad recalls.

Canada will take in up to 50 White Helmets volunteers and their families, totalling up to 250 people, the country's public broadcaster CBC said citing senior officials.

The group's motto - "To save one life is to save all of humanity" - is drawn from a verse in the Koran, although the White Helmets insist they treat all victims, regardless of religion. "But what is the guarantee that the government won't arrest us if we leave with the buses?" he asked.

Damascus and its allies have accused rebels and their supporters of staging chemical attacks in an attempt to frame the government.

Hundreds of White Helmet rescue workers have been evacuated from Syria, with many to be given sanctuary in Britain.

The news about the Israeli involvement came amid Tel Aviv's ongoing provision of assistance to the militants fighting the Syrian government.

Since the offensive began, Jordan said it will not open its borders to the newly displaced Syrians.

Lebanon's National News Agency reported Monday that hundreds of refugees return to Syria from Lebanon. The U.N. refugee body praised Jordan's move to give them temporary sanctuary.

Unlike France, the United States had high praise for Israel's role in the mission.

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