Published: Mon, July 23, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Moonlight rescue of Syria's White Helmets offers 'ray of hope'

Moonlight rescue of Syria's White Helmets offers 'ray of hope'

Israel on Monday said its air defences fired at rockets that approached its territory from neighbouring Syria, where regime troops are advancing on opposition forces close to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. "I authorized bringing them through Israel to other countries as an important humanitarian gesture", Netanyahu said.

"The civilians were subsequently transferred to a neighboring country", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated.

The U.S. State Department welcomed the rescue of "these fearless volunteers" and cited the United Nations, Israel, and Jordan for helping with the operation.

He said the aid workers would remain at a "closed" location and that Britain, Germany and Canada had agreed to resettle them within three months.

Canada has offered to accept dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria following a dramatic rescue over the weekend that was orchestrated by the Israeli military and personally encouraged by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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 military said its actions did not reflect a change to Israel's non-intervention policy in Syria's war, now in its eight year, where all the warring parties are considered hostile.

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

The White Helmets, officially known as Syria Civil Defense, is a volunteer organization that operates in parts of rebel-controlled Syria and in Turkey.

His supporters, and his Russian allies, say the volunteers support the rebels and also have links to jihadist groups.

Hundreds were evacuated from the southwest of the war-torn country as part of what Israel described as a "humanitarian effort". But Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his backers, including Russian Federation, have dismissed them as Western-sponsored propaganda tools and proxies of Islamist-led insurgents. Out of concern that the missiles were launched towards Israel, alarm sirens were sounded in many areas in the Upper Galilee and the Golan Heights, including Tzfat and Katzrin. Western powers have accused Syria of attacking rebel-held areas with illegal chemical weapons.

The announcement marked the first such Israeli intervention in Syria's civil war, now in its eight year. 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.

The IDF published a statement on Twitter and said: "Following the reports of sirens sounding in northern Israel, it was concluded that the rockets were from internal fighting in Syria, where they later fell".

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