About 800 White Helmets civil defense volunteers and their families have been rescued from possible regime retribution in southern Syria.

The rescuers and family members were moved via Israel to Jordan, following a pro-Assad offensive — enabled by Russian bombing — that has taken most of Daraa and Quneitra Provinces.

The Israel Defense Forces said were involved in “a humanitarian effort to rescue members of a Syrian civil organization and their families … due to an immediate threat to their lives”. The evacuation was at the request of the US and several European countries, the IDF said.

Jordan’s State news agency Petra said the kingdom “authorized the United Nations to organize the passage of about 800 Syrian citizens through Jordan for resettlement in Western countries”.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland confirmed, “Canada, working in close partnership with the United Kingdom and Germany, has been leading an international effort to ensure the safety of White Helmets and their families.”

Journalist Elizabeth Tsurkov cautions about “misreporting” and notes the multi-national nature of the operation.

Formed in 2013, the White Helmets estimate that they have saved about 115,000 lives amid pro-Assad attacks across Syria. About 200 rescuers have been killed, most by regime and Russian bombing but some in assaults by armed men on their headquarters.

The organization has been the target of an intense smear campaign, with sustained disinformation from Russia and the Assad regime. The attacks have been supported by social media accounts, including some activists portraying themselves as journalists.

See Syria’s White Helmets, the Russia Propaganda Machine, and the “Agitprop” Activists
Syria Feature: These Are The White Helmets

Kristyan Benedict of Amnesty International:

Meanwhile, thousands of rebels, family members, and civilians are being transferred from Quneitra Province to the last major opposition area, Idlib Province in northwest Syria.