Syria blasts evacuation of White Helmets as 'criminal'

by Garry Watts July 26, 2018, 1:34
Syria blasts evacuation of White Helmets as 'criminal'

Jordan said that "Britain, Germany and Canada made a legally binding undertaking to resettle them within a specified period of time due to "a risk to their lives".

"We pay tribute to the courageous and selfless work that White Helmet volunteers have done to save Syrians on all sides of the conflict".

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

It also also tweeted that the "civilians were subsequently transferred to a neighbouring country".

The White Helmets are a group of volunteer first responders working in areas under rebel control in Syria - providing necessary services like ambulance, medical, firefighting, and rubble clearing.

Israel had originally calculated numbers evacuated at 800, but that figure was revised downwards by former MI5 officer James Le Mesurier, recognized as the founder of the White Helmets which he formed in Turkey in 2013.

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

The unnamed source added, "Words are not enough no express the discontent, which the Syrians feel towards these mean conspiracies and the limitless support provided by the Western states, Israel and Jordan to the "White Helmets" organization and to the gangs of Daesh (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations, which have worked over the past eight years with the aim of deviating Syria from its track and destroying the achievements it has attained".

It was unclear how many White Helmet volunteers remained in both the Daraa and Quneitra provinces after the evacuations.

"A group of core countries have committed to resettling a number of White Helmets".

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Exactly when the White Helmets will arrive is unclear; the rescued Syrians are expected to remain in a United Nations refugee camp for at least three months to allow for processing.

Huge plumes of smoke could be seen from the occupied Golan Heights just across the fence in Syrian territory as government and Russian forces launched air strikes and tanks shelled the area.

On Sunday, Syrian state media kept up the campaign against the group, pointing out that Israel facilitated the evacuation, citing it as evidence that the group was collaborating with an enemy power.

Its activation came after Israel on two separate occasions this month fired Patriot missiles at incoming drones from Syria.

Israel yesterday helped around 400 opposition-linked White Helmet rescue workers and their families flee a neighboring pocket of southwestern Syria as government forces bore down on them.

Evacuation plans were accelerated after last week's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels.

"Jordan is willing and encouraging the return when tension calms down because the refugees constitute a heavy burden on the kingdom in the light of the global community's inability to cover the costs", she said.

The Israeli government signalled it would not impede the Syrian army presence in Quneitra as long as Syrian forces steered away from a demilitarised zone along the border. Some 300,000 have been displaced by the fighting, with only a few thousands opting for evacuation to Idlib, which is expected to be the target of the next government offensive.

"All sides benefit from giving the losing team a safe exit", he said. The area houses several defense ministry facilities.

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