White Helmets flee to Jordan

White Helmets flee to Jordan

Also on Sunday, hundreds of Syrian "White Helmet" rescue workers and their families fled advancing government forces and crossed into the occupied Golan Heights, before arriving in Jordan with the help of Israel and Western allies.

Founded in 2013, the Syria Civil Defense, popularly known as the White Helmets, is a network of first responders that rescues people wounded by air strikes, shelling or explosions in rebel-held areas. The SAA also managed to recover more than 90% of the rebel-controlled Daraa area near the Jordanian border.

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.

While Israel played an indispensable role in the rescue of a significant number of White Helmets and their family members from a precarious situation in Syria, France's Foreign Ministry issued an official statement with no mention of the Jewish state.

An operation to evacuate hundreds of rescue workers from war-torn Syria has been condemned as "criminal" by the country's government.

Despite their pledge to help victims on both sides, the Syrian and Russian governments consider the White Helmets to be a terrorist organization.

The group's motto - "To save one life is to save all of humanity" - is drawn from a verse in the Quran, although the White Helmets insist they treat all victims, regardless of religion.

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The source said numerous rescuers and their families had made risky journeys across a war zone to reach the evacuation point.

The evacuees were driven to the border with the Golan Heights and taken on from there by Israeli troops to Jordan.

Syrian regime forces have denied exit to members of the White Helmets civil defense agency and their families to opposition-held Idlib province amid an evacuation deal from Quneitra province, according to the group's chief.

Jordan, which has closed its borders to refugees, says it had permitted the United Nations bring in 800 rescue workers and their families into the country.

Israel's vigilance was underscored by the launch of its latest, US-backed missile shield against rockets that it said were fired from within Syria but which fell short of the Golan lines.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed Sunday that Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump were among those who asked Israel to rescue the White Helmets in recent days, after leaders first talked about helping the White Helmets during the recent North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels. Israel described the move as an "exceptional humanitarian gesture", adding that it "continues to maintain a non-intervention policy regarding the Syrian conflict".

The White Helmets have gained worldwide praise, were nominated for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize and were the subject of a Netflix documentary and BBC Panorama programme. Since its establishment, the group has received at least $55 million from the British Foreign Office, $23 million or more from the US Office of Transition Initiatives and untold millions from Qatar.