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24 July 2018, 03:00 | Tara Lloyd
Israel evacuates 800 Syria White Helmets to Jordan: Army
The request by the United States and European countries to save the White Helmets came as the civil defense volunteers were threatened by advancing forces of the Syrian regime in the south of the war-ravaged country.
Before the meeting, Netanyahu said he would tell the envoys that "Israel insists on the separation of forces agreement between us and Syria being honoured, as they were honoured for decades until the civil war in Syria broke out".
The Syrian government is now accusing those remaining of collaborating with Israel and threatening that they "will be executed" for their dealings with the country that Syria has long warred with.
The group rose to prominence as it filmed its operations to rescue civilians from Syrian government airstrikes in the country's brutal civil war.
More than 5 million people have fled Syria during its seven-year-long civil war, according to the United Nations. Jordan later confirmed that 422 Syrian citizens had crossed its border, and that they would now be resettled as refugees in several Western countries.
Some 800 people were evacuated to Jordan via the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights overnight, Israeli media say.
Safadi, Jordan's foreign minister, said in a tweet that his government approved the evacuation after a pledge from Britain, Germany and Canada that the evacuees would be resettled in three months.
He said the prospect of regime retaliation has forced the group's members to retreat to safer areas or flee. "The transfer of the displaced Syrians through Israel is an exceptional humanitarian gesture", the IDF said.
Supporters of President Bashar al-Assad, and his ally Russian Federation, say the WhiteHelmets support the rebels and also have links to jihadist groups.
Syria's state-run news agency SANAreported on Sunday that Israel "smuggled" the White Helmets to Jordan, saying the volunteer group had links to terrorist groups including the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front. The group is funded in part by the British government. Tel Aviv is widely believed to have been providing weapons to anti-Damascus militants as well as medical treatment to Takfiri elements wounded in the Arab country inside the occupied Golan Heights.
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Admitting to the operation later on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuclaimed that the operation was an "important humanitarian step", adding that he ordered it after requests from US President Donald Trump and Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau.
Syria splintered into civil war in 2011 when Assad's regime violently repressed demonstrations against his rule during the pro-democracy Arab spring.
Israel's vigilance was underscored by the launch of its latest, USA -backed missile shield against rockets that it said were fired from within Syria but which fell short of the Golan lines.
What are the White Helmets?
"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 global community's inability to cover the costs", she said. The Syrian rockets... landed inside Syrian territory.
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