Published: Mon, July 23, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Trudeau and Israel’s Netanyahu discussed evacuation of White Helmets

Trudeau and Israel’s Netanyahu discussed evacuation of White Helmets

Jordan agreed to a request by Britain, Germany and Canada to give the White Helmet workers temporary asylum until they can be settled in western countries on humanitarian grounds, the spokesman said.

The Israeli military said the evacuation was an "exceptional humanitarian gesture" carried out at the request of the United States and a number of European countries due to "an immediate threat to (the Syrians') lives".

It added that the White Helmets and their family members were transferred to a neighbouring country, which it did not name.

"They were evacuated from the war zone in Southern Syria to a neighboring country". They first seized the border with Jordan, squeezing the opposition in the center and progressively chipping away at areas the rebels held for years.

In Jordan, the Foreign Ministry confirmed that 800 Syrian citizens have indeed entered their territory to be resettled in Western countries.

The group says it has saved over 114,000 lives and has lost the lives of 204 White Helmet volunteers since its founding in 2014.

Syrian regime forces and its allies have made advances in the southwest hat bring it closer to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights border.

On June 19, Syrian government forces launched a Russia-backed offensive to retake Daraa and Quneitra provinces. "We judged that, in these particular circumstances, the volunteers required immediate protection".

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Founded in 2013, the Syria Civil Defence, or White Helmets, is a network of first responders which rescues wounded in the aftermath of air strikes, shelling or explosions in rebel-held territory.

The White Helmets describe themselves as a volunteer workforce that acts to save people in Syria's war zones.

Some 422 volunteers and family members were taken to Jordan via the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights overnight.

"We pay tribute to the fearless and selfless work that White Helmets volunteers have done to save Syrians on all sides of the conflict".

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said she "called for global leadership to support and help these heroes" during a meeting of foreign ministers at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders' summit in Brussels a week ago.

The army was consolidating its control of a series of commanding heights that overlook the Golan frontier that had allowed mainly Islamist rebels who once controlled it a strong position in the sensitive border area.

Netanyahu also revealed on Sunday that Trudeau was one of the world leaders who personally asked for Israel to evacuate roughly 800 of the White Helmets over fears they would be targeted by regime forces.

Tens of thousands of people have been sheltering at the frontier since the Russian and Syrian aerial bombing campaign that the opposition called a scorched earth policy began a month ago.

Aron Lund, a Syria expert with the Century Foundation, said after funding and promoting the White Helmets for years, the evacuation should not be a surprise.

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