Netanyahu meets Russian FM, rejects Syria buffer zone restraining Iran

26 July, 2018, 01:36 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • H8 syria white helmets israel

Israel ferried 800 members and relatives of the White Helmets who were threatened by the advance of government forces in the provinces of Deraa and Quneitra.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a joint statement with the International Development Secretary that the "brave and selfless" volunteers required "immediate protection".

Ottawa confirmed that Trudeau spoke to Netanyahu Saturday about "the regional security situation and the evacuation of White Helmets from Syria".

It said they were transferred to a neighbouring country, which it did not identify.

Officially called the Syrian Civil Defense but known by their distinctive white helmets, the group has operated a rescue service in rebel-held parts of Syria after aerial bombing of civilian areas.

FILE - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi enter a hall during a meeting in Moscow, Russia, July 4, 2018.

It is not clear if the White Helmets who have been previously evacuated to Idlib from other parts of Syria will receive similar treatment.

"Too many times we've seen the same child in photographs, year after year, always covered in dust", Hersh said, adding that the White Helmets "do engage in anti-Assad [activities]". Their volunteers have gone into war-stricken areas, searching for survivors, winning them support from many countries, including the United States.

The evacuees were transported on Sunday to Jordan, from where they are expected to be resettled in Europe and Canada in the coming weeks.

Spokesman Mohammed al-Kayed said the Syrians would remain in a closed area for up to three months before moving on.


The Syrian government has condemned the evacuation over the weekend of the White Helmets civil defence group from a war zone in the south of the country.

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

"The Russians are speaking about [the 100km buffer zone] and are committed to it, but we said there are also long-range weapons beyond this zone, and all those forces must leave Syria", the official said.

In June, Israel fired a missile at a drone that approached its airspace near the Syrian frontier.

Evacuation plans were accelerated after last week's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels. All other opposition fighters along the southwestern border left following deals struck with the Syrian government and Russian forces.

"Jordan is willing and encouraging the return when tension calms down because the refugees constitute a heavy burden on the kingdom in the light of the worldwide community's inability to cover the costs", she said.

Close to one million Syrians are registered with the U.N.'s refugee agency in Lebanon.

Aron Lund, a Syria expert with the Century Foundation, said after the worldwide community's funding and promoting the White Helmets for years, the evacuation should not be a surprise.

Syrian state television said on Sunday an Israeli air strike hit a military post in the city of Misyaf in Syria's Hama province but caused only material damage.

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