Syria conflict: Assad regime condemns evacuation of White Helmets

Syria conflict: Assad regime condemns evacuation of White Helmets

The evacuated White Helmets had been working in an area controlled by the Syrian opposition in the south-west of the country and had been trapped by a government offensive.

Israel Defense Forces tweeted Sunday the White Helmets "faced an immediate threat to their lives in Syria".

With its new advances, government forces are, for the first time since the civil war began in 2011, retaking this territory from the rebels and restoring their positions along the disengagement line on the frontier with Israel that's part of a cease-fire agreement reached in 1974 between the two countries formally still at war. The unnamed official said the co-operation of the U.S., Britain, Jordan, Germany and Canada also implicates them in supporting the group.

The volunteers, known as White Helmets, had been stranded along the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights following the latest Syrian government offensive in southwestern Syria.

As with most of the previous attacks, the Israeli government refused to confirm the attack, or comment on it, saying they don't comment on foreign reports.

But Syria's government and its ally Russian Federation have accused the group of links to jihadist groups.

The evacuees were transported on Sunday to Jordan, from where they are expected to be resettled in Europe and Canada in the coming weeks.

Some 422 volunteers and family members were taken to Jordan via the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights overnight.

Israeli forces said it had transferred the rescue workers and their families to a neighbouring country, adding that the operation was "exceptional".

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At least 200 White Helmets have been killed since the group began work in Syria.

Aron Lund, a Syria expert with the Century Foundation, said after the worldwide community's funding and promoting the White Helmets for years, the evacuation should not be a surprise.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday (Jul 23) praised President Donald Trump's "tough stand" against Iran after the United States leader issued a stark warning to the Islamic republic.

"We communicated with the United Nations and for their safety, evacuation was carried out to Jordan through [Israel-occupied] the Golan Heights", he told Anadolu Agency.

Last year, a Netflix production called "The White Helmets" won an Academy Award for best short documentary.

Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Mohammad al-Kayed told Petra that while Jordan already hosts 1.3 million Syrian refugees, it "won't hesitate to perform its humanitarian duty despite the great burdens placed on the Kingdom".

"They are now being assisted by the UNHCR in Jordan pending global resettlement".

Sirens sounded in northern Israel on Monday morning as the IDF implemented the David's Sling to intercept two SS-21 ballistic missiles, which had been fired as a result of internal fighting in Syria. "They acted exclusively on territories under the control of Islamic radicals, staged blatant falsifications, which were used then as a pretext to raise accusations against the Syrian authorities", the ministry stated.

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