Israel Aids Evacuation of Hundreds of ‘White Helmets’ and Families in Syria

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Israel has facilitated the evacuation of tons of of rescue staff, referred to as the White Helmets, and their households from an embattled pocket of southern Syria, serving to them to journey by Israeli-held territory to achieve Jordan, Israeli and Jordanian officers stated on Sunday.

The unprecedented transfer in an element of Syria the place pro-government forces are advancing adopted a push by Western nations together with the United States to guard members of the White Helmets, volunteer emergency staff who rush to the scene of airstrikes in civilian areas.

The Israeli Army stated in an announcement on Sunday that the United States and European nations had requested for assist with the evacuation of the civilians “due to an immediate threat to their lives.”

A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Jordan, Mohammad al-Kayed, stated that his nation had approved the United Nations to facilitate the entry of 800 Syrians to Jordan after Britain, Germany and Canada had made a “legally binding undertaking to resettle them within a specified period of time due to a risk to their lives.”

The evacuation got here as Syrian authorities forces, that are supported by Russia and Iran, have been sweeping by a swath of territory alongside Syria’s southern border with Jordan, seizing areas which have lengthy been held by Western-backed rebels searching for to oust President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

As cities have fallen, tons of of hundreds of folks have fled their properties, and many, together with members of the White Helmets, ended up in the shrinking pocket of rebel-held territory alongside the Israeli-held Golan Heights.

Officially referred to as the Syria Civil Defense, the White Helmets, so known as for his or her signature exhausting hats, have been lauded in the West for his or her work digging folks out of the rubble after authorities airstrikes. The United States and different Western governments have funded their work, and a Netflix movie, “The White Helmets,” gained an Academy Award final 12 months for finest quick documentary.

A second movie concerning the group, “Last Men in Aleppo,” was nominated for an Oscar this 12 months.

The Syrian authorities accuses the group of cavorting with terrorists and of staging footage of their operations to garner sympathy and demonize the federal government.

The Israeli Army known as the transfer “an exceptional humanitarian gesture,” apparently to make it clear that additional evacuations have been to not be anticipated.

The Syrians will stay in a restricted space in Jordan till their resettlement inside three months, the spokesman or the Jordanian Foreign Ministry stated.

It remained unclear on Sunday if all 800 Syrians who had been approved to enter Jordan had really made the journey.

On Sunday, Jeremy Hunt, Britain’s new overseas secretary, who just lately changed Boris Johnson, took to Twitter n Sunday to trumpet the evacuation: “Fantastic news that we — UK and friends — have secured evacuation of White Helmets and their families — thank you Israel and Jordan for acting so quickly on our request.”

After seven years of warfare, the Syrian authorities has reclaimed management of most of the nation’s middle and its largest inhabitants facilities. As Mr. Assad has reasserted his management in these areas, with Russian and Iranian help, the function of the United States and different Western nations in figuring out the battle’s trajectory has receded.

Rebels as soon as backed by the United States to combat the federal government have misplaced their funding, and Western-funded teams just like the White Helmets are capable of work in smaller components of the nation.

Follow Ben Hubbard on Twitter at @NYTBen.

David M. Halbfinger contributed reporting from Jerusalem, and Rana F. Sweis from Amman, Jordan.

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