Israel evacuates Syrian volunteers stranded in frontier area

Tuesday, 24 Jul, 2018

CNN reports that one member of the group reached out to them on Sunday, and said: "We are 300 volunteer members and calling upon the countries of UK, Canada, Jordan, America to continue their efforts in evacuating the remaining members of the White Helmets".

Syrian Civil Defence volunteers, also known as the White Helmets, and Syrian Red Crescent members evacuate a wounded woman following a reported airstrike that targeted the Idlib bus station on January 18, 2017.

The White Helmets, founded in 2013 amid Syria's bloody civil war, have rescued thousands of civilians trapped under the rubble or caught up in fighting in opposition-held zones along the fronts of Syria's seven-year conflict.

Jordan agreed to a request by Britain, Germany and Canada to give the White Helmet workers temporary asylum in the kingdom before settlement in the West on humanitarian grounds, spokesman Mohammad al Kayed said.

"These are people who save lives and now find themselves in deadly danger, therefore I approved bringing them through Israel to another country as an important humanitarian step".

Western powers have accused Syria of attacking rebel-held areas with illegal chemical weapons.

The rescuers and their families are expected to be resettled in Europe and Canada.

The governments of Israel and Russian Federation formed working groups which studied issues like the deployment of Syrian and Israeli forces along the border on the Golan Heights and the re-instalment of demilitarized zones and no-man's land.

Those rescued will be kept in a "closed" location in Jordan before being resettled in Britain, Germany, and Canada within three months, the source told Reuters.

Syrian state television said on Sunday an Israeli air strike had hit a military post in the city of Misyaf in Syria's Hama province but caused only material damage.

"Canada, working in close partnership with the United Kingdom and Germany, has been leading an worldwide effort to ensure the safety of White Helmets and their families", she said.

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.

The government and Russian Federation view the White Helmets as "agents" of foreign powers and have regularly accused them of staging rescue missions or chemical attacks.

Mr Netanyahu previously held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on July 11 amid Israeli concern that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an old adversary, might defy a 1974 demilitarisation deal on the Golan or allow his Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah allies to deploy there.

The Syrian civil war began in March 2011.

Its activation came after Israel on two separate occasions this month fired Patriot missiles at incoming drones from Syria. Jordan hosts at least 650,000 registered Syrian refugees, according to the United Nations, but Amman says a similar number of undocumented Syrians are also in the kingdom. The Syrian rockets... landed inside Syrian territory.