In 2012, just a year or so after the start of the Syrian civil war and soon after Syrian regime forces began to attack civilian areas under rebel control, a group of some 3,000 volunteers from all walks of life formed the Syria Civil Defense, better known as the White Helmets.
This neutral humanitarian organization began to perform tasks such as medical evacuation, search and rescue in response after bombing attacks, and evacuation of civilians from danger zones. Over the six years of their existence, the White Helmets have saved the lives of over 100,000 people.
The White Helmet volunteers are heroes. Yet the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad and its Russian allies call them terrorists. So when a number of the White Helmets became trapped between advancing Syrian troops on one side and militants affiliated with ISIS on the other, at the request of a number of countries, including the United States, Israel facilitated the evacuation of 422 White Helmets and their families from Syria to Jordan.
The United States welcomes the safe evacuation of more than 400 members of the White Helmets and their families from southwest Syria.
“The United States and our international partners asked the United Nations to take the central role in this critical humanitarian operation. In response, the UN organized entry into Jordan for these members of the White Helmets and their families, who are fleeing violence in southwest Syria. The White Helmets have consistently been targeted by the Assad regime,” said State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert.
“We deeply appreciate Israel's role in facilitating the transit of the White Helmets and their family members. We commend Jordan's generosity in supporting their processing by UNHCR and the commitment of the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany to provide the White Helmets and their families with permanent homes.
“We renew our call on the Assad regime and Russia to abide by their commitments, end the violence, and protect all Syrian civilians, including humanitarians such as the White Helmets, in areas formerly part of the southwest de-escalation zone and throughout Syria.”