The Syrian Army advances toward Golan Heights border

The Syrian Army advances toward Golan Heights border

The Syrian Army advances toward Golan Heights border

Muhannad, a member of the White Helmets in southwestern Syria who was unable to reach Quneitra as part of the evacuation, told The National that around 260 civil defence workers left in the evacuation, alongside relatives that brought the number to around 500 in total.

The Israeli military issued a statement after the operation, saying it was done at the request of the United States and certain unnamed European countries.

Israel at the weekend played a critical role in rescuing hundreds of humanitarian workers and their families trapped in southern Syria.

The IDF says it was an "exceptional humanitarian gesture".

The U.S. statement said that "we deeply appreciate Israel's role in facilitating the transit of the White Helmets and their family members".

"The criminal operation that Israel and its tools conducted in the area reveals the true nature of the so-called White Helmets", said a source at the foreign ministry, cited by state news agency SANA.

The attack comes less than a day after Jordan said 800 people including members of Syria's controversial "White Helmets" opposition group had been evacuated Sunday from southwest Syria with the help of Israel forces.

Since 2013, the 3,000 White Helmet volunteers - also known as the Syria Civil Defence - have worked in rebel-held areas where Syria's official emergency services do not venture.

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.

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The Syrian regime launched a large offensive in June that has retaken the rebel-held areas in Dara'a and Quneitra bordering Jordan and the Golan.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement: "The White Helmets have saved over 115,000 lives during the Syrian conflict, at great risk to their own".

More than 20,000 civilians have escaped bombardment on the IS-held corner in the past 24 hours, fleeing into regime-held areas, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The White Helmets were taken across the border and then ferried on buses across the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and on into Jordan.

The rescue was organized by Israel, which has otherwise avoided direct intervention in the brutal civil war ravaging its neighbor.

It was feared that they would be persecuted by advancing government forces in southern Syria.

Israeli fighter jets attacked parts of western Syria yesterday on a military site in the Masyaf countryside.

Ghunaimat also said Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on Sunday discussed "preliminary ideas" about the possible return of Syrian refugees to their homeland, but that "we can not talk about return while the crisis in Syria is not yet over".

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