Syrian Civil Defense recently released a statement:
“Ninety-eight male and female White Helmet volunteers, with 324 of their family members – mostly women and children – have arrived in Jordan through the occupied Syrian Golan Heights after being forced to flee their homes in southern Syria. The UNHCR participated in the coordination of the agreement to resettle the 422 rescue workers and their family members in countries including Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, among others.
The intense assault on southern Syria that started on 19 June resulted in the occupation of the area by the Syrian regime and its allies. In addition to the intense aerial bombardment of civilian areas, the White Helmets were singled out for specific targeting. Four volunteers were killed and dozens injured due to bombardment by the Syrian regime and its allies. Four White Helmet centres were hit and many rescue vehicles destroyed.
The initial circulated ‘reconciliation’ agreement did not include any guarantees of safe passage for displaced humanitarian workers to other areas of Syria outside regime control.
The targeting of the White Helmets by the Syrian regime has been systematic and well documented. Since our formation, 251 volunteers have been killed in the line of duty, the majority from ‘double-tap strikes.’
The volunteers evacuated yesterday continued to serve their communities until the last possible moment. However, the occupation of the area by the Syrian regime made this work impossible.
As Syrians who love our country, it breaks our hearts to be forced to leave it, but it was the only alternative for our trapped volunteers who would otherwise have faced detention or death at the hands of the Syrian regime and its ally Russia.
For years we have asked the international community to honour its commitments to end the brutal attacks and allow every Syrian to stay safely in his or her home. Today, we repeat this request, as more than 3000 volunteers are working across both southern and northern Syria to serve our people under the bombs.
In the absence of the requested protection, we thank all governments who contributed to the success of this operation to rescue the rescuers, and we ask that they do more to help the hundreds of thousands remaining in southern Syria.
We confirm that the Syrian Civil Defense will continue its mission to serve the Syrian people in all possible areas. 3750 White Helmets remain working on the ground in Syria to do so.”