Canada to resettle dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria

23 July, 2018, 15:50 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Civil Defence rescue children after what activists said was an air strike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al Assad in al Shaar neighbourhood of Aleppo Syria Jun 2 2014. Reuters

As many as 300 White Helmets are still trapped in Syria after an Israeli evacuation Sunday of hundreds of the rescue workers and their family members, according to a member of the group who left CNN a series of voicemails on the situation.

Members of the Civil Defence, also known as the "White Helmets", are seen inspecting the damage at a Roman ruin site in Daraa, Syria December 23, 2017.

On Saturday, Israeli security forces closed down roads in the occupied Golan Heights, on the Syrian frontier, ahead of the evacuation operation.

On Saturday, Jordan's Foreign Ministry said it has allowed the United Nations to organize the passage of some 800 White Helmets members for humanitarian reasons.

Officially known as the Syria Civil Defense, the White Helmets, so called for their signature hard hats, have been lauded in the West for their work digging people out of the rubble after government airstrikes.

The rescue workers - a lot of them women - had been among tens of thousands of civilians packed into a final pocket of opposition-held territory along Syria's border with Israel as rebel forces there struck a surrender deal with the government.

With reporting from Reuters news agency.

They also became witnesses to the numerous war crimes committed by Syrian President Bashar Assad and the Russian military as both deliberately targeted civilian structures in bombing raids.

The US, UK, Germany and Canada had all been aiding the White Helmets logistically in recent months.

The White Helmets describe themselves as a volunteer workforce that acts to save people in Syria's war zones.

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"The White Helmets have witnessed vicious atrocities committed by the Assad regime and its backers".

The White Helmets have allegedly saved the lives of more than 100,000 people since its founding in 2013, BBC reported.

A Syrian military source told Ma'an that the SAA, backed by a Russian air campaign, has recovered several villages, which were besieged by the rebels.

According to the Times of Israel newspaper, planning for the evacuation had been in the works for some time but was speeded up after a recent North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels.

Jordan said it would transfer the Syrians to Britain, Canada and Germany.

"The request was approved based on pure humanitarian reasons", he added.

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 workers' lives were at risk.

The IDF says it was an "exceptional humanitarian gesture". For the first time since the war began in 2011, government forces regained positions along the disengagement line following a cease-fire deal with Israel in 1974.

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

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