White Helmets trapped in Syria: 300 rescue employees cannot get out


“We’re 300 volunteer members and calling upon the nations of UK, Canada, Jordan, America to proceed their efforts in evacuating the remaining members of the White Helmets,” the rescue volunteer, who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Muhanad, instructed CNN on Sunday. “Assist us and save our lives.”

Abu Muhanad mentioned the remaining volunteers and their households have been unable to achieve the evacuation level in southern Syria as a result of roads have been blocked on account of preventing within the space between Syrian forces and ISIS affiliate Khalid ibn al-Walid. That preventing has intensified in current days as Syria tries to eradicate the final remaining ISIS pockets within the southern a part of the nation.

The Syrians evacuated Sunday have been transferred to Jordan through Israel, on the request of the USA and a few European nations, the Israel Protection Forces (IDF) mentioned in a press release after the operation. Israel described the transfer as an “distinctive humanitarian gesture,” including that it “continues to take care of a non-intervention coverage concerning the Syrian battle.”

Numerous these evacuated have been from the White Helmets volunteer rescue group, generally known as the Syrian Civil Protection.

The Syrian regime described the Sunday evacuation of White Helmet volunteers with Israeli help as a “felony operation” that has revealed “the terrorist nature” of the group, the official information company SANA reported Monday, quoting an unnamed international ministry official.

The transferred Syrians will stay in a restricted space in Jordan in the interim, Jordanian Ministry of International Affairs spokesman Mohammad al-Kayed instructed the Jordanian state-run Petra information company, earlier than onward switch to Britain, Germany and Canada inside the subsequent three months.

Jordan had initially mentioned 800 Syrians have been evacuated and Jordanian International Minister Ayman Safadi tweeted on Sunday that the unique settlement was for 800 however that they later settled at 422.

“For humanitarian causes, Jordan gave the United Nations permission to arrange the passage of Syrians who entered the Occupied Golan after Britain, Germany and Canada offered a legally binding pledge to resettle them after three months,” Safadi tweeted Sunday. “The quantity requested was 800 however the precise quantity settled at 422,” he added.

Remaining White Helmets in peril

“We’re nonetheless in peril,” Abu Muhanad instructed CNN. “Saving lives is the largest crime we’re charged with; now we’re known as terrorists as a result of we save lives.”

He says they’re between a rock and a tough place: thought-about “terrorists” by the regime, they have no bargaining chips, in contrast to the rebels, who’ve their weapons. Furthermore, now that Israel has helped the evacuation, they face a brand new cost of being “collaborators with Israel.”

By movies, photos, and social media, the White Helmets are extensively seen as having performed an essential function in displaying the worldwide neighborhood the horrors of the Syrian civil warfare. Their volunteers have gone into war-stricken areas, trying to find survivors, profitable them assist from many nations, together with the USA.

The White Helmets “used to see loss of life whereas doing our work saving lives from beneath airstrikes and barrel bombs. Now we see loss of life differently — not understanding what is going to occur to us,” the volunteer added.

Canada will resettle as much as 50 White Helmets and their households, a Canadian official with direct data of the resettlement efforts instructed CNN. The overall variety of folks might be over 200, almost half of the Syrians evacuated into Jordan on Sunday.

Nevertheless, taking 50 households will not be needed as there have been a number of provides from allies to resettle the volunteer rescuers, in line with the official.

Germany mentioned Monday they might be taking eight White Helmet refugees. The UK confirmed to CNN they may supply asylum to a number of the rescue employees however haven’t given any numbers.

“The continued navy offensive and ever larger territorial features by the Syrian regime in southern Syria have created a transparent and current hazard for the White Helmets and their households,” German Federal Minister of the Inside Horst Seehofer mentioned in a press release Monday.

“These folks, who’ve risked their lives to help and rescue the civilian inhabitants, and to cut back their struggling, at the moment are themselves in want of assist. Granting them safety is, I consider, a humanitarian responsibility and an expression of my coverage to uphold humanity and order in migration coverage. “

CNN’s Oren Liebermann and Sheena McKenzie contributed to this report.

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