Cyprus Mail
Middle East World

Hundreds of Syrian “White Helmets” evacuated by Israel to Jordan

Jordan said on Sunday that it had allowed the UN to arrange the entry and passage of 800 Syrian civil defence workers whose lives were in danger after a government offensive that regained rebel-held parts of southern Syria, a foreign ministry spokesman said.

The kingdom agreed to a request by Britain, Germany and Canada, which have been funding the organisation, to give the White Helmet workers temporary asylum in the kingdom before settlement in the West on humanitarian grounds, Mohammad al Kayed the spokesman said.

The 800 members were evacuated via Israel from southwest Syria, where a Russian-backed Syrian government offensive is underway, media said.

In a statement, the Israeli military said it had completed “a humanitarian effort to rescue members of a Syrian civil organisation and their families … due to an immediate threat to their lives”.

It said the evacuation came at the request of the United States, which also funded the group in the past, and several European countries.

Jordan’s official Petra news agency said on its website the kingdom “authorised the United Nations to organise the passage through Jordan for resettlement in Western countries”.

Petra said they would remain in a closed area in Jordan and that Britain, Germany and Canada had agreed to resettle them within three months.

The Syrian military, backed by a Russian air campaign, has been pushing into the edges of Quneitra province following an offensive last month that routed rebels in adjoining Deraa province who were once backed by Washington, Jordan and Gulf states.

The offensive has restored Syrian government control over a swathe of the southwest, strategic territory at the borders with Jordan and Israel.

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