Syria conflict: White Helmets evacuated by good Samaritan Israel - Whisper Eye

Syria conflict: White Helmets evacuated by good Samaritan Israel

Israel says it has carried out an evacuation of members of Syria’s White Helmets civil defense group from a war zone in south-western Syria.

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

The UK, one of the nations requesting Israel’s help, hailed the operation and will assist with resettlement.

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

Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and his Russian allies, say the White Helmets support the rebels and also have links to jihadist groups.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said they were acting on a request from the US, the UK and other European nations.

The White Helmets had become trapped in an area of south-western Syria near the border with the Golan Heights after an offensive by the Syrian military.

The offensive, begun in June, has seen a number of agreements that have led to the evacuation of rebel forces from the Deraa and Quneitra areas to regions further north.

The White Helmets operate only in rebel-held areas, although they say they are non-partisan.

The evacuees were driven to the border with the Golan Heights and taken on from there by Israeli troops to Jordan.

The plan had been to evacuate 800 White Helmets and their families, but only 422 made it.

The BBC’s Mark Lowen says the others have been hemmed in by the expansion of Islamic State group fighters into pockets of south-west Syria and, as this was a one-off operation, fears remain for the fate of those left behind.

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