Israel Evacuates 800 White Helmets to Jordan in Face of Syria Advance

Syrian army pushes into Quneitra province: state tv, rebels

Syrian army pushes into Quneitra province: state tv, rebels

An global operation to rescue more than a hundred Syrian rescue workers and their families took place early Sunday, carrying hundreds of civilians through Israel and Jordan under cover of darkness as President Bashar al-Assad's forces prepared to take control of the area.

The Israeli military said the evacuation was an "exceptional humanitarian gesture" carried out at the request of the United States and a number of European countries due to "an immediate threat to (the Syrians') lives".

Kayed said those evacuated would stay in "a restricted area" of Jordan until they are transferred to the three countries within three months.

"Following an Israeli government directive, and at the request of the United States and additional European countries, the IDF recently completed a humanitarian effort to rescue members of a Syrian civil organization and their families", the army said.

The Israeli military said Sunday it had rescued members of a Syrian volunteer civil organization from the volatile frontier area and evacuated them to a third country, the first such Israeli intervention in Syria's lengthy civil war.

An explosion is seen at Quneitra at the Syrian side of the Israeli Syrian border as it is seen from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Israel July 22, 2018.

Jordan's Foreign Ministry stated in a press release that Amman allowed the United Nations to arrange passage for the Syrian refugees through its territory, ahead of their resettlement in Western countries.

The White Helmet volunteers and their families will be held in a "restricted area" of Jordan and assessed by the United Nations, pending resettlement.

The members of the Syrian Civil Defense, more commonly known as the White Helmets, were evacuated overnight Saturday and transferred through Israeli to Jordan, according to Reuters.

The Syrian army wants full control over Quneitra province where Israel has deep concerns over the presence of Iranian backed militias in the so-called Triangle of Death area. "We judged that, in these particular circumstances, the volunteers required immediate protection".

He wrote on Twitter that the White Helmets will release an official statement on the matter on Monday.

Euronews has contacted the White Helmets for comment on the reports.

"At a meeting of foreign ministers on the occasion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders' summit in Brussels a week ago, I called for global leadership to support and help these heroes".

More than 20,000 civilians have escaped bombardment on the IS-held corner in the past 24 hours, fleeing into regime-held areas, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Tens of thousands of people have been sheltering at the frontier since the Russian and Syrian aerial bombing campaign that the opposition called a scorched earth policy began a month ago.

The Syrian government and Russian Federation have labelled the White Helmets as foreign "agents" and have accused them of staging scenes of alleged chemical weapons attacks. For the first time since the war began in 2011, government forces regained positions along the disengagement line following a cease-fire deal with Israel in 1974.

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

Last week, Israel delivered 72 tons of food, approximately 70 tents, 9,000 liters of fuel, as well as pallets of medicine, medical equipment, clothing and children's toys as part of six special operations in several locations in south west Syria.

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