Israel Evacuates Syria's 'White Helmets' to Jordan

23 Juillet, 2018, 10:28 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Israel Evacuates Syria's 'White Helmets' to Jordan

The Israeli military said that overnight it had completed "a humanitarian effort to rescue members of a Syrian civil organization and their families.due to an immediate threat to their lives".

"The transfer of the displaced Syrians through Israel is an exceptional humanitarian gesture", the IDF said.

But the military vowed to stay firm in its commitment to a non-intervention policy - where all the warring parties are considered hostile.

Britain said the operation was possible due to the joint diplomatic efforts, hailing the efforts of the White Helmets volunteers to save lives in opposition areas.

Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman al Safadi was quoted in a foreign ministry statement as saying he had discussed in a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov the details of the mission to bring the rescue workers to Jordan.

Britain along with Germany and Canada has agreed to take them within three months, according to Jordan's official Petra news agency.

The U.S. statement said that "we deeply appreciate Israel's role in facilitating the transit of the White Helmets and their family members".

Its members say they are neutral, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and his Russian ally accuse the White Helmets of being tools of their global donors.

Troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have recaptured a string of villages straddling the southern provinces of Deraa and Quneitra as they edge closer to a 1974 demilitarised zone with Israel.

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Netanyahu also revealed on Sunday that Trudeau was one of the world leaders who personally asked for Israel to evacuate roughly 800 of the White Helmets over fears they would be targeted by regime forces.

"The request was approved based on pure humanitarian reasons", ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Kayed said.

"We judged that, in these particular circumstances, the volunteers required immediate protection", they said.

The Syrian government and Russian Federation have labelled the White Helmets as foreign "agents" and have accused them of staging scenes of alleged chemical weapons attacks.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said she "called for global leadership to support and help these heroes" during a meeting of foreign ministers at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders' summit in Brussels a week ago.

Who are the White Helmets?

The rescue marked the first time in the eight-year war that Israel has allowed Syrians to flee through its territory.

Syrian civilians began flocking to the Israeli and Jordanian borders as the fighting intensified, leading to the displacement of more than 320,000 people since June 19, the United Nations says. Thousands of civilians had taken shelter near the frontier to escape the government offensive.

More than 650,000 Syrian refugees are registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Jordan but the kingdom says it hosts 1.3 million Syrian refugees.

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