Syrian 'White Helmets' flee to Jordan

Benjamin Netanyahu attends a joint statment with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem

On Saturday, more than 400 rescuers and their family members were evacuated from Syria's Quneitra province through Israel to Jordan, after the rebels surrendered the last areas they held in the south-western province to the government.

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.

Israel rebuffed on Monday a new Russian offer to keep Iranian forces in Syria away from the Golan Heights ceasefire line, an Israeli official said, complicating Moscow's bid to stabilise the country amid a waning civil war.

Jordan's official Petra news agency said on its website the kingdom "authorised the United Nations to organise the passage of about 800 Syrian citizens through Jordan for resettlement in Western countries".

White Helmets head Raed Saleh said the evacuated workers had arrived in Jordan after being "surrounded in a risky region".

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said on Sunday it was supporting the temporary stay in Jordan of 422 Syrian rescue workers known as the "White Helmets" ahead of their relocation overseas.

The White Helmets are a volunteer aid and rescue NGO supported and lauded by the West, credited for saving thousands of civilians from the onslaught of Syrian troops and their allies driving Western-backed rebel groups from what were once rebel strongholds.

Hundreds of White Helmet rescue workers have been evacuated from Syria, with many to be given sanctuary in Britain. "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 statement said.




Jordan has agreed to temporarily house the 422 evacuees, but its Foreign Ministry said Britain, Germany and Canada would resettle them.

It marked the first such Israeli intervention in Syria's civil war, now in its eighth year.

Al Jazeera's Stefanie Dekker, reporting from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, described the operation as "a massive multinational and global effort, with the United Nations involved to get this under way".

The source said the attack is an attempt to cover up the collapse of "terrorist organizations in Daraa and Quneitra provinces, as the Syrian Arab Army advances to end the presence of terrorism in the southern region". Such destinations have clearly shown who the true masters of the group are, Hassoun said.

"It's quite emblematic that the White Helmets preferred to flee Syria with foreign assistance, thus unmasking their essence and hypocrisy to the whole world", the commentary said. The Israeli military termed it a "humanitarian effort".

It also allows the return of Syrian army brigades, that existed before the 2011 conflict, back to where they were stationed near a 1974 demilitarised zone with Israel on the Golan frontier.

This followed an unconfirmed, reported attack by the Israel Airforce on a research facility belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Hama, Syria.

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