Syria blasts Israel for rescuing White Helmet rescuers
The Syrian government on Monday condemned the evacuation of hundreds of Syrian White Helmet rescue workers, calling it a “criminal operation” undertaken by “Israel and its tools”.
The rescue workers and their families crossed out of Syria into the Israeli Golan Heights before arriving in Jordan over the weekend.
Israel said it had helped with the evacuation at the request of President Trump and other leaders – and there had been fears that the rescuers’ lives were at risk.
The Syrian government has accused the White Helmets, also known as Syria Civil Defence, of being a Western-sponsored terrorist organization. Dictator Bashar al-Assad has called the White Helmets part of al Qaeda in Syria.
The White Helmets was established as a rescue service in rebel-held areas of the country, where its volunteers have often worked to save people trapped under the rubble of government bombardment.
State news agency SANA, citing a foreign ministry official, said the evacuation “exposed the true nature of the organization known as the White Helmets”, calling it a risk to stability and security “because of its terrorist nature”.
A Jordanian government source said 422 people were brought from Syria, over the Israeli Golan Heights frontier and into Jordan, down from a figure of 800 announced earlier by the foreign ministry in Amman.
The evacuees will be kept in a “closed” location in Jordan and resettled in Britain, Germany and Canada within three months, the source said.
A second non-Jordanian source familiar with the agreement said 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 ISIS terrorists in the area.
Israel continues to maintain a non-intervention policy regarding the Syrian conflict and continues to hold the Syrian regime accountable for all activities in Syrian territory
The transfer of the displaced Syrians through Israel is an exceptional humanitarian gesture.
The IDF has provided life-saving humanitarian aid to Syrian civilians through Operation “Good Neighbor” for several years, as a good-will gesture, while maintaining a policy of non-intervention in the Syrian conflict.