White Helmet ‘heroes’ flee from attacks through Israel


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a brief statement he had acted on the request of US President Donald Trump and other leaders. Photo: AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a brief statement he had acted on the request of US President Donald Trump and other leaders. Photo: AP

Hundreds of members of Syria’s ‘White Helmet’ civil defence group and their families have fled advancing government forces and slipped over the border into Jordan overnight with the help of Israeli soldiers and Western powers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a brief statement he had acted on the request of US President Donald Trump and other leaders.

“A few days ago, President Trump spoke to me, as did Canadian Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau and others, asking that we help to extract the White Helmets from Syria.

“The lives of these people, who have saved lives, were now in danger. I therefore authorised their transfer via Israel to other countries as an important humanitarian gesture,” Mr Netanyahu said.

The Syrian Civil Defence group has been credited with saving thousands of lives by operating emergency rescue services in rebel-held areas during years of bombing attacks by Damascus and its allies.

The group says it is politically neutral but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his backers have said they see the White Helmets as Western-sponsored propaganda tools and proxies of Islamist-led insurgents.

A Jordanian government source said 422 people were brought from Syria, over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights frontier and into Jordan. The evacuees will be kept in a “closed” location in Jordan and resettled in Britain, Germany and Canada within three months, the source added.

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 Isil in the area, another source said.

Irish Independent

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