Israel forces help Syrian White Helmets evacuate endangered area

A cooperative effort between Israel’s military and several of the country’s allies has been made to evacuate hundreds of Syrian White Helmets from the border between the nations in conflict. The operation, which is unprecedented and came in an unpredictable manner, helped several rescue workers who had been trapped and cornered by hostile Syrian troops and the Islamic State militia.  The workers will now be sent to Jordan, from which they will be relocated in Europe and Canada.

Over four hundred and twenty White Helmets were evacuated, which is nearly half of the number they initially intended to send. The actions were reported by Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, and the country’s military also stated that the “an exceptional humanitarian gesture”. Several authorities have thanked the U.S., Canada and European countries for supporting the action, especially mentioning President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau.

The U.S. State Department has been quick to respond, praising the United Nations and all countries involved for the motions. A spokesman from the department also stated that Syria and Russia should ” abide by their commitments, end the violence, and protect all Syrian civilians, including humanitarians such as the White Helmets, in areas formerly part of the southwest de-escalation zone and throughout Syria.”

British authorities also responded positively to the news, as they praised the diplomacy displayed in the decision-making process. The country’s foreign secretary stated: “The White Helmets are the bravest of the brave and in a desperate situation this is at least one ray of hope.”

The volunteer members of the White Helmets had been stranded in the Golan Heights, foreign territory for them, following military actions from the Syrian government in June. They were accompanied with their families, who were also incredibly exposed to danger. The motion done by the government is quite historic, as this is the first intervention of the Israeli government in the Syrian civil war, eight years after its beginning. Although they stated that their measure did not lastingly affect their no-intervention policy in Syria, Israel’s actions did mark a significant difference from their former approach to foreign policy.

White Helmets, who have repeatedly been deemed as terrorists by the Syrian and Russian administrations, have repeatedly received military and financial support from the United States and other Western countries. It is precisely because of this that they have been considered as dangerous, as they were seen as “agents” of foreign powers and the biggest enemy to the Syrian government. Syria used this latest action as an opportunity to continue targeting the group, as they stated that intervention from Israel only confirmed their relationship with foreign enemies.

The Helmets have been working in opposition areas for decades, being the only rescue forces available to face the Syrian government. They mainly focused in areas where state institutions and services are non-existent. Government forces have applied a military strategy known as “double tap”, where they would corner the volunteers into one area and then bomb them together in order to cause major damage.


Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons