Syrian White Helmets evacuated by Israel


Germany, Canada and Britain said they will resettle the White Helmets and their families within three months.

The Israeli army said it evacuated the White Helmets overnight at the request of the United States and European countries, in what it called "an exceptional humanitarian gesture". There's a real sense of tragedy that this had to happen at all.

"When the negotiations took place with the Russians, the negotiators could not give us clear answers about our fate". They asked not be named because they did not have permission to speak publicly.

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

In a statement on Sunday, the Israeli military said it had completed "a humanitarian effort to rescue members of a Syrian civil organisation and their families. due to an immediate threat to their lives".

Syrian news agency SANA reported on Sunday evening that an Israeli air strike had hit a military area in Syria's Hama province.

Netanyahu held talks with Putin in Moscow on July 11 amid Israeli concerns that Assad, an old foe, may defy a 1974 demilitarisation deal on the occupied Golan Heights, or allow his Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah allies to deploy there. The 422 people included women and children.

Up until the last minute, those on the ground weren't certain whether the operation would succeed. "So they got rid of this irritating element".

They have reclaimed the Syrian side of the Jordanian border, and taken back the frontier with the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. "Yesterday's evacuation through Israel only made things worse".

UK's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt also praised the rescue mission, saying in a tweet: "Fantastic news that we - United Kingdom and friends - have secured evacuation of White Helmets and their families - thank you Israel and Jordan for acting so quickly on our request". Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall.

Israel's launched its "David's Sling" air defence system on Monday as a precaution against rockets fired within neighbouring Syria, setting off sirens in northern Israeli communities, the military said.

The Observatory said two buses carrying evacuees were held up by a pro-Syrian government militia, apparently after they went off road. Thousands of armed men and their families were evacuated over the weekend.

"A few days ago President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and others approached me with the request to help extract from Syria hundreds of White Helmets", Netanyahu said in a statement.

BEIRUT - The Syrian government on Monday condemned the evacuation of hundreds of Syrian White Helmet rescue workers, calling it a "criminal operation" undertaken by "Israel and its tools".

The White Helmet volunteers and their families will be held in a "restricted area" of Jordan and assessed by the United Nations, pending resettlement.

The White Helmets typically have operated in opposition-held areas across Syria, places where government services are nearly non-existent, voluntarily risking their lives to save hundreds of civilian lives during relentless government airstrikes and bombardments. Opposition sources said there is an Iranian presence at the site, which was used to develop and produce chemical weapons.