White Helmets expected to be resettled in United Kingdom after rescue from Syria

23 July, 2018, 19:28 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • 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

"Now that it appears that the Assad regime is going to regain its hold over all of Syria, the global community wanted to extricate them so that they wouldn't have to pay the price of the enormous hatred that the Syrian regime has for them", he said.

Raed Saleh, the head of the Syrian Civil Defense, as the White Helmets are formally called, confirmed the evacuations took place but would not elaborate on the numbers of people who got out.

"Words of condemnation are not enough to express the indignation that every Syrian feels towards these despicable conspiracies and the limitless aid from Western countries, Israel, and Jordan to the White Helmets", the source said.

It added that the White Helmets and their family members were transferred to a neighbouring country, which it did not name.

The ministry's spokesman Mohammed al-Kayed said the Syrians would remain in Jordan for three months.

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.

Syrian state TV Al-Ikhbariya reported the Israeli evacuation of the White Helmets, calling it a "scandal" and saying "terrorist groups" now have "zero options".

Meanwhile, Syrian forces kept up their offensive, pounding the southern tip of the southwestern region where an Islamic State-affiliated group still holds territory.

Around 50 buses transporting fighters and their families reached the Morek transit route in the north of Hama province, which links regime and rebel-held territories, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.

The White Helmets volunteers had been stranded along the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

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Government forces make new gains in southwestern Syria: Monitor
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been pressing Mr Putin to rein in Iranian and Iran-backed forces in Syria. Government troops are also seeking to advance on another town to the south through negotiations with rebels there.

It was the fourth time this month that Syria has accused Israel of bombing a military position in the war-wracked country and the second time the research center has been reportedly targeted by Israel, following a previous strike on the facility in September 2017.

His supporters, and his Russian allies, say the volunteers support the rebels and also have links to jihadist groups.

Jordan said on Sunday that it has taken in 800 Syrian White Helmets rescuers and their families from Israel and plans to transfer them to the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany.

Hundreds were evacuated from the southwest of the war-torn country as part of what Israel described as a "humanitarian effort".

The United States once armed the southern FSA rebels, but told them at the start of the Russian-Syrian offensive not to expect its intervention.

German weekly magazine Bild, which broke news of the evacuation and published footage of buses used to transport the Syrians across Golan, said 50 of them would be granted asylum by Berlin.

The White Helmet members and their families will be held in a "restricted area" of Jordan.

But Israel has said it will not allow the refugees to enter Israel.

It is not clear if the White Helmets who have been previously evacuated to Idlib from other parts of Syria will receive similar treatment.

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