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Israel evacuates “White Helmets” from Syria as government forces continue to take territory


News Analysis |

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have carried out the evacuation of more than 400 “White Helmets” recuse workers and their families amid fear of persecution as Syrian forces move forward. The evacuation, he said, has been carried out on request of US president Donald Trump and other western countries. The operation of bringing the members of “civilian responders in case of emergency in Syria”, as they like to call themselves, was hailed by Britain, Canada, and Germany. While Donald Trump did not mention the rescue operation in any of his tweets on Sunday, which is strange given how he likes to boast about such operations, US State Department welcomed the operation in an issued statement.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan had to call his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to keep a check on the post-victory treatment of people by Syrian forces or else it may affect the Astana agreement.

White Helmets or Syrian Civil Defense, as they are officially called, are a group of volunteers who have been funded and praised by western countries for their rescue operations in urban areas of battle ridden Syria. The group first emerged in 2014 when they were seen in the photos and footages rescuing people from rubble after the aerial strike. Their efforts have been acknowledged by United States, UK, Canada and other countries funneling millions of dollars for their operations. Their work was the subject of an Oscar-winning Netflix documentary and the recipient of two Nobel peace prize nominations. Contrary to what west thinks of them, Syria and Russia have always deemed them as the propaganda tool which the US and its allies are using at their discretion.

The United States of America along with its western allies, who wanted a regime change in Syria, have used and relied upon the evidence provided by White Helmets for the use of chemical weapons by Assad forces. It is the reason why Russia has accused them of staging the false flag gas attacks which provided the USA the reason needed to strike inside Syria. The US had launched cruise missiles at Syrian armies’ installments inside Syria twice on the charge of holding the Assad government accountable for using chemical weapons. The Russian embassy in Netherland welcomed the perceived exodus of the group in a tweet with these words, “Definitely there will be fewer chances of new so-called #CW (chemical weapon) attacks in Syria after forced evacuation by the collective West of the notorious #WhiteHelmets,”.

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The credibility to their humanitarian claims came under question after rebels were defeated in Aleppo and the city was more accessible. Videos surfaced which showed that either civilian of Aleppo, which was given the name of “Stalingrad of Syria” for the fierce battle it experienced, were not even familiar with the organization altogether or those who did, said that it worked for the rescue and medical aid of rebel fighters.

Israel which was requested to carry out the operation for their rescue because of its proximity with Syria has previously admitted of giving medical aid and treatment to rebels at Israeli hospitals. While the country apparently maintains a non-interventionist posture as far as the civil war in Syria is concerned, but it has been known as an active player in the conflict deploying several means to counter the growing Iranian footprint in the region, including aerial strikes at Iranian forces.

Despite the doubtful integrity and genuineness of the cause with which White Helmets used to operate inside Syria, it remains the fact that civilians living in the rebel strongholds feel threatened by the advance of Syrian forces. Hundreds of Syrian families marched toward the Jordanian border last week before the Darra, another stronghold for rebels, fell to the Syrian army. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan had to call his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to keep a check on the post-victory treatment of people by Syrian forces or else it may affect the Astana agreement. The agreement refers to a series of talks backed by Arab league and western powers to find a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict.

The rescued White Helmets are currently in Jordan for a temporary stay. They will be relocated to Germany, Britain, and Canada along with their families in a few days.

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