Israel evacuates 800 Syria White Helmets to Jordan: Army

Blanche Robertson
July 22, 2018

Welcoming their evacuation, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted: "Fantastic news that we - United Kingdom and friends - have secured evacuation of White Helmets and their families - thank you Israel and Jordan for acting so quickly on our request".

"Israel continues to maintain a non-intervention policy regarding the Syrian conflict and continues to hold the Syrian regime accountable for all activities in Syrian territory".

It did not specify the group, but German tabloid Bild said some 800 members of the White Helmets had been expected to be brought to Jordan through Israel to be reportedly resettled later in the UK, Canada, and Germany.

Israel confirmed on Saturday that it had evacuated 800 White Helmet rescue workers and their families from southern Syria to Jordan after the government agreed to take them in. He did not elaborate on the numbers of those evacuated.

The Associated Press first reported on Friday that US officials were finalizing plans to evacuate several hundred Syrian civil defense workers and their families from southwest Syria as Russian-backed government forces closed in on the Quneitra province, along the Golan Heights frontier. U.S. officials said the volunteers at the border were likely to be targeted by the government advance.

"At a meeting of foreign ministers on the occasion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders' summit in Brussels a week ago, I called for global leadership to support and help these heroes". The Syrian government has surrendered its chemical arms stockpiles during a procedure overseen by the United Nations' chemical watchdog.

The Syrian government is unlikely to fire there or carry out airstrikes for fear of an Israeli response.

The White Helmets typically have operated in opposition-held areas across Syria, places where government services are nearly non-existent, voluntarily risking their lives to save hundreds of civilian lives during relentless government airstrikes and bombardments.

Israel confirms it evacuated 800 White Helmet rescue workers from Syria

As such, they have been targeted by government forces.

Since the offensive began, Jordan said it will not open its borders to the newly displaced Syrians.

They were encircled in the provinces of Daraa and Quneitra, he said, including a number trapped between the border with the Golan Heights and advancing Russia-backed regime troops, he told AFP.

It said they were transferred to a neighboring country, which it did not identify.

Officially called the Syrian Civil Defense but known by their distinctive white helmets, the group has operated a rescue service in rebel-held parts of Syria after aerial bombing of civilian areas. The Syrian government managed to get full control over a strategic territory at the border with Jordan following the operation.

Last week, Israel delivered 72 tons of food, approximately 70 tents, 9,000 liters of fuel, as well as pallets of medicine, medical equipment, clothing and children's toys as part of six special operations in several locations in south west Syria.

The Israeli military said it will continue to aid those in need but won't allow a massive influx of refugees into the country.

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