Global News

The conflicting narratives of the White Helmets

The conflicting narratives of the White Helmets

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

The White Helmets and their families had been stranded along the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights following the Syrian government offensive in southwestern Syria which began in June.

Nearly 29 villages, hamlets and hilltops returned to the government control after accepting the terms of surrender by the rebel groups operating along the borders with the Occupied Golan Heights.

The transferred Syrians will remain in a restricted area in Jordan for the time being, Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Mohammad al-Kayed told the Jordanian state-run Petra news agency, before onward transfer to Britain, Germany and Canada within the next three months.

The group, which operates in opposition-held areas, is often targeted in Syrian government attacks on its members and facilities.

Mr Hunt and Penny Mordaunt said in a joint statement: "Following a joint diplomatic effort by the United Kingdom and global partners, a group of White Helmets volunteers from southern Syria and their families have been able to leave Syria for safety".

Eight hundred so-called "White Helmets" and their family members had taken refuge in Quneitra, the one small part of southern Syria not already under the control of Russian-backed regime forces.

Syrian regime forces and its allies have made advances in the southwest hat bring it closer to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights border.

Southwest Syria, a prized region for almost all stakeholders in Syria's war due to its strategic position bordering both Jordan and the Israel with close proximity to Damascus, has been under heavy bombardment by Assad's forces which launched an offensive last month to take over the last remaining strongholds of rebels in that part of the country.

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"The transfer of the displaced Syrians through Israel is an exceptional humanitarian gesture".

The White Helmets are championed by Western nations.

Officially called the Syrian Civil Defense but known by their distinctive white helmets, the group has operated a rescue service in rebel-held parts of Syria after aerial bombing of civilian areas.

Britain's Foreign Office said it had helped facilitate the overnight evacuations.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said she "called for global leadership to support and help these heroes" during a meeting of foreign ministers at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders' summit in Brussels a week ago.

"They discussed the regional security situation and the evacuation of White Helmets from Syria". Thousands of civilians had taken shelter near the frontier to escape the government offensive.

They are viewed as heroic, courageous and selfless rescue workers who've saved hundreds of lives, through the brutal course of Syria's war.

Aron Lund, a Syria expert with the Century Foundation, said after funding and promoting the White Helmets for years, the evacuation should not be a surprise.


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