Pledge After Killing of 7 White Helmets Rescuers: “We Will Continue Our Work in Syria”

White Helmets rescue children after a pro-Assad attack in Syria, May 2017

“We will not allow any criminals to stand in our way”

On Saturday, a gang attacked a civil defense center in Sarwin in Idlib Province in northwest Syria, killing seven White Helmets volunteers. The next day, rescuers and their supporters rallied across the country to assure that the work of the organization, which says it has saved more than 95,000 lives since 2013, would continue.

Across Syria, White Helmets Protest Killing of 7 Colleagues
Syria Daily, August 13: 7 White Helmets Killed in Gang Attack in Idlib Province

Syria Direct speaks with Rabia Hussein Diab, a volunteer in Sarmin:

Could you tell us about the seven members of the Syrian Civil Defense who were killed on Saturday? When was the last time you saw them?

They took the overnight shift on Friday night. They took stock of the medical equipment, the ambulance and the firetrucks so they would be ready to go if there were any airstrikes, fires or incidents.

These young men were ready to sacrifice themselves just to help others.

What does it mean for the Syrian Civil Defense to be attacked in opposition-controlled territory and under the protection of opposition factions?

Every time we go out on a rescue operation after an attack or bombardment, we know that we could be going toward our deaths. This is the work of the Civil Defense, and we all know that.

Crimes against the Civil Defense are not new, but this time is different. They were directly targeted. Now, all of Syria is dangerous. There are no safe places, and it does not matter if the territory is under the protection of opposition factions or the Syrian regime.

How has Saturday’s attack affected not only the Civil Defense’s ability to operate in the city, but also the group’s morale?

We will continue our work no matter what happens. We will not allow any criminals to stand in our way. These martyred members will be a beacon on our path to continue our humanitarian work, which will not stop.

Q: Has your organization had any issues with the local community or attacks before? How does this attack impact the Civil Defense’s relationship with the local community?

We don’t have any problems with anyone, as our work is purely humanitarian. We are citizens providing a service to citizens. We have been committed to neutrality since the beginning.

I don’t think that this incident will affect our relationship with the community. There is no hostility between us and the community. With every bombing or incident, we are the first ones on the scene — every man, woman and child knows this.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.


  1. Why are some anti Assad activists trying to blame HTS. The White Helmets are not. Who started this divisive rumor that some are circulating. It is clear, only Assad or his backers have anything to gain.

    • Agree that Assad could have something to gain by divide and conquer of ‘rebel’ support for HTS in Idlib, though I personally tend to think SAA incapable of this professionally executed infiltration operation, if that’s what it really was.

      However, at least two other parties could have strong motive, means and superior capabilities to commit the crime and thus dear old Taqiyya Tayyip and Yankistan must be considered as at least equally likely suspects, since:
      1. HTS have failed to bend to their will in Idlib and the whole place is now under a weapons embargo.
      2. This is a preliminary to some operation to wipe them out, whether that means by direct Turkish/NATO invasion, which currently seems unlikely, or just their tacit support to the Rooskies, Majoosie, Hezbollah and SAA doing so in the due course of time.
      3. Lessening HTS’s political support amongst the population upon whom they rely can be a critical part of ensuring such operation ultimately succeeds, even if it must be secured by very filthy false-flag methods, but these alternative suspects do actually have quite a bit of form in that department.

  2. Of course they will continue, I had no doubt about that.
    Islamists never stop until everything is totally and utterly destroyed.
    The bats of hell will fly till the last bat is a corpse.

    • It has always been SAA policy to make the war more interesting by giving away masses of hardware to any enemy that comes knocking, and this strategy has worked fantastically well so you can hardly expect them to change it now on the home straight.

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