Two White Helmets rescuers are buried in Idlib Province, Syria, after they were reportedly killed by a Russian “double-tap” attack, June 26, 2019
Russian and Assad regime attacks killed at least nine civilians, including two rescuers, in northwest Syria on Wednesday.
The latest assault on Idlib Province, shattering a demilitarized zone declared by Russia and Turkey last September, brought the total of civilians killed since April 28 to more than 400, with hundreds wounded and an estimated 330,000 displaced.
An estimated 3 million people — about 20% of Syria’s remaining population — live in Idlib and in northern Hama Province, where Russia and the regime launched a now-stalled offensive on May 6.
The White Helmets civil defense said the two rescuers were killed and five wounded by a “double tap” Russian airstrikes, in which warplanes carry out a second attack as people are responding to help victims of the first. Two hours were needed to evacuate the victims because of sustained bombing.
A statement from the White Helmets asserted:
A thorough examination of evidence, such as eyewitnesses and the identification of the munitions used in the attack,…has conclusively proven that the aircraft that committed today’s crime of targeting and killing our volunteers belonged to the Russian Air Force.
They left, but their souls light up the path for us..
Pictures from the funeral of our fallen heroes Omar and Ali, who were killed today after a double-tap attack by regime and Russian warplanes targeting their team during their humanitarian duty in #KhanShikhoun city. pic.twitter.com/3MsrCrFXrZ
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) June 26, 2019
The bombing hit an ambulance in Khan Sheikhoun, a town which has been repeatedly attacked by pro-Assad forces despite the declaration last autumn of the demilitarized zone. In April 2017, regime warplanes dropped the nerve agent sarin on the population, killing about 90 people and injuring hundreds.
More than 250 rescuers have been killed, many of them by the double-tap strikes, since the White Helmets were formed in 2013 to provide rescue and recovery services in opposition areas of Syria.
Three rescuers from the Violet Organization and their patient were killed last week in a strike on their ambulance in the town of Ma’arat al-Num’an.
The Assad regime’s media did not mention the casualties, instead accusing anti-Assad fighters of killing a girl in regime-held northern Hama Province with rocket fire.