Israel evacuates 800 Syrian 'White Helmets' to Jordan

Israel evacuates 800 Syrian 'White Helmets' to Jordan

One day after Israel evacuated some 800 Syrian White Helmets, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the action "an important humanitarian step", according to a statement his office released on Sunday.

Regime forces had increased their offensive in the area in recent weeks, making the rescue effort even more urgent.

Israel signalled it would not impede the Syrian army presence in Quneitra as long as it steered away from the demilitarized zone, and said it will continue to escalate attacks along its frontier and elsewhere in Syria where it suspects Iranian-backed forces are stationed.

Jordan confirmed the Syrian citizens entered its territory to be resettled in Western countries in weeks.

Meanwhile, Israel has evacuated hundreds of volunteers with the Syrian Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, and their families from Syria to Jordan overnight at the request of the United States and European countries. "The number requested was 800 but the actual number settled at 422", he added.

He told The National that the relocated people had been encircled in the provinces of Deraa and Quneitra, but did not elaborate on the exact numbers of those moved.

The Israeli military said on Sunday it had rescued members of a Syrian volunteer civil organization from the volatile border area on the Golan Heights and evacuated them to a third country.

"Canada, working in close partnership with the United Kingdom and Germany, has been leading an global effort to ensure the safety of White Helmets and their families", she said. Many live and work in the northern rebel held province of Idlib, an area that continues to be heavily bombarded by the Syrian government and its allies.

Canada's foreign minister Chrystia Freeland said: "Canada, working in close partnership with the United Kingdom and Germany, has been leading an global effort to ensure the safety of White Helmets and their families". Their volunteers have gone into war-stricken areas, searching for survivors, winning them support from many countries, including the United States.

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Civilians rushing out of the damaged buildings in Syria after airstrikes hit a school housing a number of displaced people.

The UK had backed an global effort to rescue members of the group and their families from the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

On June 19, Syrian government forces launched a Russia-backed offensive to retake Daraa and Quneitra provinces.

"They discussed the regional security situation and the evacuation of White Helmets from Syria".

Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, also praised the evacuation and said her country had provided funding to the volunteer group. It added: "We feel a deep moral responsibility to these courageous and selfless people".

Spokesman Mohammed al-Kayed said the Syrians would remain in a closed area for up to three months before moving on.

"The White Helmets have saved over 115,000 lives during the Syrian conflict, at great risk to their own".

"A few days ago, President Trump contacted me, along with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and others, with a request to help extract from Syria several hundred White Helmets", he says.

CNN's Oren Liebermann reported from Jerusalem, Sheena McKenzie wrote in London.

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