Israel Evacuates Syria's 'White Helmets' to Jordan

White Helmets expected to be resettled in UK after rescue from Syria

The White Helmets fight fires and carry out repairs in war zones.

The Syrian Government has condemned the evacuation of hundreds of Syrian White Helmet rescue workers and their families with the help of Israeli soldiers, calling it a "criminal operation" undertaken by "Israel and its tools".

The source said 422 people were brought from Syria, over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights frontier and into Jordan, down from a figure of 800 announced earlier by the foreign ministry in Amman.

The White Helmets are mostly Syrian nationals who over the past several years have taken it upon themselves to conduct rescue operations following major military confrontations in the war-torn country.

Israel said the evacuation came at the request of the United States and a number of European countries. The U.N. Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) administers a buffer zone between the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Syria.

The offensive, which began in June, has seen a number of agreements that have led to the evacuation of rebel forces from the Deraa and Quneitra areas to regions further north.

Surrender deals were reached with the armed groups, allowing thousands to evacuate to the northern province of Idlib, where the opposition still holds sway.

Raed Saleh, head of the White Helmets, also known as the Syrian Civil Defense, said a number of volunteers and their families were evacuated from a unsafe, besieged area.

Al Jazeera's Stefanie Dekker, reporting from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, described the operation as "a massive multinational and worldwide effort, with the United Nations involved to get this under way". Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also described the White Helmets as "a branch of al-Qaeda and al-Nusra" militant groups and a "PR stunt" by the USA, the United Kingdom and France.

What have Israel and Jordan said?

Despite the intervention, the IDF said that "Israel continues to maintain a non-intervention policy regarding the Syrian conflict".

Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi saidon Twitter that 422 people were evacuated, instead of the initial 800 cleared for the operation.

Canada has offered to host up to 50 White Helmets and their families, a senior official confirmed to The Canadian Press on condition of anonymity. The U.K., Germany and Canada have agreed to process the refugees' asylum claims.

The UK confirmed it would help with the resettlement, providing protection to "as numerous volunteers and their families as possible".

"White Helmets have been the target of attacks and, due to their high profile, we judged that, in these particular circumstances, the volunteers required immediate protection", it said.

"We are still in danger", Abu Muhanad, another White Helmet member, told CNN.

A number of those evacuated were from the White Helmets volunteer rescue group, known as the Syrian Civil Defense. Some 200 members have been killed.

The group was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 for its humanitarian efforts.

Jihadists are not a party to these deals, and Russian planes bombarded a holdout of the Islamic State group in Daraa province overnight, a Britain-based war monitor said.

Israel said it had helped with the evacuation at the request of US President Donald Trump and other leaders - and there had been fears that the rescue workers' lives were at risk. The government has alleged the group stages videos.

Related:

Comments

Latest news

Source Close to Demi Lovato Disputes Heroin Overdose Report
Lovato has become a leading advocate for addiction and mental health recovery services. "Every single day", she continued. Cheat Codes and U.K. act Little Mix recently released the new single "Only You", which is now No. 1 on the U.K.

Sisters Stabbed, 1 Killed In BART Station Attack, Father Pleads For Justice
Although police said there was no evidence yet the attack was racially-motivated, some demonstrators said they believed otherwise. Kaiser Medical in Richmond filed a restraining order against him after he was accused of threatening to kill an employee in 2016.

PM Narendra Modi to gift 200 cows to Rwanda
Currently, India doesn't have a resident mission in Rwanda , but is administered through the high commission in Kampala. In the education sector, Modi announced a donation of 100,000 NCERT books for school going children of Uganda.

Tesla: asking suppliers for cash back is 'standard' negotiating strategy
Tesla's share price is now down 4.22 per cent, after hitting a low of 4.3 per cent in pre-market trading this morning. The WSJ calls the sum "meaningful", and reports that the refunds are on payments made since 2016.

Xiaomi Mi A2 and A2 Lite Launched
Meanwhile, the Mi A2 Lite has a 5.84-inch FHD+ display , a Snapdragon 645 processor , 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of built-in storage. The Mi A2 is successor to the Mi A1 from previous year , while the Mi A2 Lite is a toned down version of the Mi A2.

Montenegro says 'contributes to peace' in response to Trump attack
With such a small military, it is hard to know what Trump was referring to when he called Montenegro's people "very aggressive". They are very aggressive people.

Trump Stuns Washington, Invites Russia's Vladimir Putin to White House
This move comes as President Donald Trump continues to face backlash over a recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin . Coats said he wished Trump hadn't made the statement backing up the "powerful" denial by Vladimir Putin of election hacking.

US intel chief in tight spot over Trump and Russia meddling
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington , U.S., July 18, 2018. The Trump administration, she said, was trying a new approach on its relationship with Russian Federation .

Donald Trump invites Vladimir Putin to U.S. despite uproar after Helsinki meeting
Trump has continued to insist that the US should try to have a good relationship with Russian Federation . Putin had both good and bad things to say about Trump in a broad speech about foreign policy.

Meghan Markle's Sister Wants Duchess to Call Dad on His Birthday
The magazine reported Meghan wants to return to her home country before becoming a mum for the first time. I bet Grant would have been loads of fun at her half-sister's wedding after-party .

Amazon workers strike in Europe to coincide with Prime Day
Retail think tank Coresight Research predicted that sales will reach $3.4 billion this year, about $1 billion more than last year. Australia's inaugural Prime Day sale reportedly trumped Amazon forecasts, with sales exceeding Boxing Day on the first day.

Tour de France - John Degenkolb dedicates emotional victory to friend
Despite his tour upset, Porte said he has his eye on future competitions. It was the second career victory at the Tour for Groenewegen.

Israel is tightening its blockade on Gaza by stopping fuel deliveries
Since the protests and clashes broke out along the border on March 30, at least 141 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire. Israel struck at two Hamas facilities on Monday as Palestinians continued launching incendiary kites and balloons into Israel.

French celebrate World Cup Victory in Paris
Then a parade was carried out by the fans which ended at Elysee Palace where the team was greeted by the President himself. Antoine Griezmann's corner was flicked on by Blaise Matuidi, striking Perisic's hand.

Trump calls the European Union a foe of the United States
When asked about who he sees as the U.S.'s biggest foe, he said that the US has "a lot of foes". The US president told reporters that "nothing bad is going to come out of it".

Other news