Syria slams 'criminal' evacuation of White Helmets by Israel

Syria slams 'criminal' evacuation of White Helmets by Israel

Syria slams 'criminal' evacuation of White Helmets by Israel

Over the weekend, a convoy of buses carrying the White Helmets streamed into northern Israel under cover of darkness.

Hundreds of White Helmets rescuers and their families have been evacuated from Syria to Jordan overnight with the help of Israel, the United States and European countries. The source added that their units operating in the south are also well advanced.

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

Israel said the evacuation came at the request of the U.S. and a number of European countries. The officer added that after the army's victory in southwestern Syria, Israel is forced to accept the return of the SAA to the occupied Golan Heights border.

The latest deal for Quneitra was reached on Thursday.

In it, the PMO said Trudeau - who is on a personal day in British Columbia - spoke about the situation playing out in the region and the need to act to evacuate the volunteer first responders, who were penned in by regime forces during an aerial bombardment that saw roughly 130 bombs dropped on some of the remaining areas under rebel control.

How was it carried out?

Al Jazeera's Stefanie Dekker, reporting from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, described the operation as "a massive multinational and global effort, with the United Nations involved to get this under way".

A non-Jordanian source familiar with the agreement told Reuters news agency the original plan had been to evacuate 800 people, but only 422 made it out as operations were hampered by government checkpoints and the expansion of Islamic State in the area.

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The Foreign Office is expected to help resettle the White Helmets and their families.

Israel, concerned that Iran's growing presence in Syria poses a threat to its security, has escalated in recent months its strikes on suspected Iranian and Iran-backed positions in Syria.

Monday's incident came after Israel earlier this month, twice in the same week, fired a Patriot missile at an unmanned aircraft that approached the country's border from Syria.

The kingdom 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.

The UK confirmed it would help with the resettlement, providing protection to "as numerous volunteers and their families as possible".

The rescue operation, which emerged Sunday, "speaks for itself" and clearly shows who exactly the group serves, the ministry said in a statement on Monday, calling its members "pseudo-humanitarians".

Hunt and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, issued a joint statement on Sunday outlining the proposed resettlement of the White Helmets and their relatives.

Critics of the move have raised doubts around the White Helmets' legitimacy as a human rights organisation, accusing them of containing within their ranks jihadists who are now set to be welcomed to Britain.

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