Israel Evacuates Syria's 'White Helmets' to Jordan

A member of the White Helmets emergency rescue group was wounded in fighting near Damascus in January

The US State Department and United Kingdom foreign secretary both praised the Israeli rescue on Monday.

Netanyahu, in broadcast remarks, said he would tell the envoys that "Israel insists on the separation of forces agreement between us and Syria being honoured, as they were honoured for decades until the civil war in Syria broke out".

Israel facilitated the evacuation of more than 400 White Helmet rescue workers and their families from an embattled pocket of southern Syria over the weekend, helping them to travel through Israeli-held territory to reach Jordan.

Earlier reports had said some 800 people had been evacuated.

Up to 300 White Helmets are still trapped.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon later confirmed the evacuees were White Helmet members and their families, though neither he nor the IDF named the country receiving the civilians.

Damascus on Monday condemned the evacuation as a "criminal operation" undertaken by "Israel and its tools".[L5N1UJ2FC] The Russian embassy in Israel tweeted that the White Helmets were "militants", linking them with Syria's Islamist-led insurgents.

But a volunteer in Daraa city, who asked to remain anonymous, said he had made a decision to stay despite being given the choice to leave. In the past two years, the Israeli military says it has delivered more than 1,500 tons of food, 250 tons of clothing and almost a million liters of fuel.

Mohammad Marandi is a political analyst and a professor at Tehran University.

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

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a separate video statement, said U.S. President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and others had asked him to help evacuate the group's members.

They are viewed as heroic, courageous and selfless rescue workers who've saved hundreds of lives, through the brutal course of Syria's war.

Britain said the operation was possible due to the joint diplomatic efforts, hailing the efforts of the White Helmets volunteers to save lives in opposition areas.

The United States and Russian Federation hailed the evacuation by the Israeli military of a Syrian volunteer civil organization from a volatile border area near the Golan Heights, although the two powers saw the operation in a sharply differing manner.

Britain hailed the evacuation, saying it and other allies had requested it.

As the lines dividing those zones have solidified, large numbers of people living in them have been moved, further exacerbating the crisis that has displaced more than half of Syria's population. "We judged that, in these particular circumstances, the volunteers required immediate protection".

The White Helmet members and their families will be held in a "restricted area" of Jordan. It was not immediately clear whether that amounted to the same 50 people. With the addition of family members, that could bring the total to around 250 Syrians, although the official said the actual number could be lower. "Canada is resettling up to 50 members and their families, and is working with the global community to assess remaining needs", said Canada's foreign affairs spokeswoman Elizabeth Reid.

"When children, women, and men in Syria flee for their lives, the White Helmets run towards danger, towards the rubble, to save the innocent and the wounded".

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