Israel Evacuates Over 400 Civilians And White Helmets From Syria

23 July, 2018, 21:28 | Author: Trevor Moore
  • 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

"Yesterday 442 White Helmets militants and their family members were evacuated from South-West Syria".

"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.

The group have been lauded for their heroism by the US, UN, and others, but have been criticized by supporters of Syria's government and its ally Russian Federation, who accuse them of being a front group for Al-Qaeda or acting in Western interests.

Israel rescued some 800 members of a Syrian humanitarian organization and their families from southern Syria. "There were lots of children", said one Israeli.

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".

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a joint statement with the International Development Secretary that the "brave and selfless" volunteers required "immediate protection". "The WH are the bravest of the courageous and in a desperate situation this is at least one ray of hope".

Israel has been on high alert as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's Russian-backed army advances against southern rebels, bringing it close to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Officials say 422 civilians were evacuated.

Israel said on Saturday that it maintains a "non-intervention policy" when it comes to the conflict in Syria.

The group receives funding from a number of governments, including Britain, Germany and the United States, but also solicits individual donations to purchase equipment such as its signature hard hats.

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

They offered services where state institutions and services are non-existent.

It also allows the return of Syrian army brigades, that existed before the 2011 conflict, back to where they were stationed near a 1974 demilitarised zone with Israel on the Golan frontier.

Russia's embassy in the Netherlands welcomed the White Helmets' departure. Moreover, now that Israel has helped the evacuation, they face a new charge of being "collaborators with Israel". Syrian state TV al-Ikhbariya called the evacuation a "scandal".

Syrian state television said on Sunday an Israeli air strike had hit a military post in the city of Misyaf in Syria's Hama province but caused only material damage.

Syrian lawmaker Khaled Abboud said that "foreign powers are pulling their agents out of the battlefield" because of the Syrian military victories that have quashed the "aggression" against Syria.

In the morning, a first wave of around 50 buses carrying opposition fighters and their families reached the Morek crossing on the edge of northwestern rebel-held Idlib province, a correspondent at the scene said.

"The civilians were subsequently transferred to a neighboring country".

The foreign ministry in Damascus condemned on Monday the evacuation of hundreds of trapped White Helmets rescue workers and their relatives from Syria's south through its arch-foe and neighbour, Israel. Evacuation plans were accelerated after last week's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels. "Canada is resettling up to 50 members and their families, and is working with the worldwide community to assess remaining needs", said Canada's foreign affairs spokeswoman Elizabeth Reid.

The evacuees will be kept in a "closed" location in Jordan and resettled in Britain, Germany and Canada within three months, the source said.

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