Israel helps move White Helmets to Jordan

World Today

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 5, 2016, Syrian civil defence volunteers, known as the White Helmets, work around destroyed buildings following reported air strikes on the rebel-held town of Douma, on the eastern outskirts of the capital Damascus. Jordan said on July 22, 2018 that it has taken in 800 Syrian White Helmets rescuers who had been evacuated by Israel from Syria as they were threatened by advancing regime forces in the south of the war-ravaged country. Jordan plans to transfer them to the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany. Founded in 2013, the Syria Civil Defence, or White Helmets, are a network of first responders who rescue wounded in the aftermath of air strikes, shelling or blasts in rebel-held territory. (AFP PHOTO / Sameer Al-Doumy)

The Israeli military rescued hundreds of Syrian civil defense volunteers, known as the White Helmets. They were evacuated to Jordan temporarily.

Jordan said it struck a deal with Britain, Germany and Canada to resettle the group.

CGTN’s Toby Muse reports.

On Saturday night, Israel’s military evacuated over 400 Syrian and their families rescue workers known as “White Helmets” from Syria, crossing through Israel into Jordan for a temporary stay.

Jordan agreed to house the rescue workers after Britain, Germany and Canada pledged to resettle the group within three months.

Jordan authorized 800 to enter the country but later on Sunday, the Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi revised the number to 422.

The group had been under pressure, caught in the middle of ISIL militants and the Syrian army that is retaking parts of the country.

“Several days ago President Trump contacted me, as did Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and others, and requested that we assist in evacuating hundreds of ‘White Helmets’ from Syria. These are people who have saved lives and whose lives were in danger. Therefore, I approved their passage through Israel to additional countries, as an important humanitarian step,” said Benjamin Netanyahu the Israeli Prime Minister.

While Israel has bombed targets in Syria, this is the first of this type of intervention in the country’s long running civil war.

Controversy has flared over the group. The White Helmets have been lauded internationally for their bravery as first responders to bombings and airstrikes carried out by Russia and the Syrian government in rebel territory. The Syrian government, however, accuses them of working with terrorist groups.

Britain’s foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt thanked Israel and Jordan for the mission on Twitter, calling the group, “the bravest of the brave.” The Syrian government said the rescue by Israel, an enemy of Damascus, showed that the White Helmets were “foreign agents”.