Syria's 'White Helmets' evacuated through Israel

Syria's 'White Helmets' evacuated through Israel
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Over 400 "White Helmet" rescue workers and their families evacuated Syria with the help of Israel and other Western powers on Sunday, according to multiple reports.

The White Helmet volunteers, who work to save civilians affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria, were reportedly trapped in the southwestern part of the country after an offensive by Syrian leader Bashar Assad's military. 


Officially known as Syrian Civil Defense, the White Helmets are best known for saving people trapped under rubble after bombings and running search and rescue operations to find people lost during battles.

The U.S., along with the United Kingdom and other European nations, reportedly asked the Israel Defense Forces to help White Helmet volunteers escape to Jordan through the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, which is located by Israel's border with Syria. 

A Jordanian government official said 422 came to the country from Syria, according to Reuters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video that the operation partially came about because people were afraid for the volunteers' safety, Reuters reported.

"The lives of these people, who have saved lives, were now in danger," Netanyahu said in a video statement. "I therefore authorized their transfer via Israel to other countries as an important humanitarian gesture."

The evacuees will reportedly be moved to Britain, Germany and Canada within three months. 

The plan was originally to move around 800 people, but only around half made it, BBC reported.

Israel said on Saturday that it maintains a "non-intervention policy" when it comes to the conflict in Syria.

The White Helmets have reportedly saved the lives of more than 100,000 people since its founding in 2013, BBC reported. Around 200 have been killed.