Canada to resettle dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria

Syrian army pushes into Quneitra province: state tv, rebels

USA officials had said they were finalizing plans to evacuate several hundred Syrian civil defense workers and their families from southwest Syria as Russian-backed government forces closed in on the Quneitra province.

"The civilians were subsequently transferred to a neighbouring country", it said without elaborating.

The evacuees were driven to the border with the Golan Heights and taken on from there by Israeli troops to Jordan.

Jordan's Foreign Ministry stated in a press release that Amman allowed the United Nations to arrange passage for the Syrian refugees through its territory, ahead of their resettlement in Western countries.

The White Helmets operate only in rebel-held areas, although they say they are non-partisan.

The White Helmets confirmed in a tweet Sunday that volunteers and their families were evacuated to Jordan for "purely humanitarian" reasons after becoming "trapped in a risky area".

"Upon request of the US, Canada and European states Israel has completed a humanitarian effort to rescue members of a Syrian civil organisation ('White Helmets") and families, ' Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon tweeted.

A Jordanian government source said 422 people were brought from Syria, over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights frontier and into Jordan, down from a figure of 800 announced earlier by the foreign ministry in Amman.

The Syrian military launched a major offensive last month to re-take rebel areas in Deraa and Quneitra provinces. United States officials said the volunteers at the border were likely to be targeted by the government advance.

Also, the rebel groups in the areas of "Muzayrib" and "Yadouda" in rural Daraa continued to hand over their weapons to the Syrian army, including 7 tanks, 3 armored vehicles and various equipment. "I therefore authorized for them to be transferred through Israel to other countries as an important humanitarian measure", the Israeli PM said.

Netanyahu said Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and others had spoken to him recently asking for help in extracting the White Helmets.

The United Nations says more than 300,000 Syrians have likely been displaced since the government offensive began in southern Syria in June.

The White Helmets, he said, "are the bravest of the fearless and in a desperate situation this is at least one ray of hope".

Damascus and its allies have accused rebels and their supporters of staging chemical attacks in an attempt to frame the government.

Tens of thousands of people have been sheltering at the frontier since the Russian and Syrian aerial bombing campaign that the opposition called a scorched earth policy began a month ago.

The Syrian government considers the group a "terrorist" organization because it works in areas controlled by its opponents, where state institutions and services are non-existent.

The rescue marked the first time in the eight-year war that Israel has allowed Syrians to flee through its territory.

More than 2,500 people, among them fighters from Islamist groups who have rejected the deal, left on Friday headed to opposition areas in northern Syria.

Aron Lund, a Syria expert with the Century Foundation, said after funding and promoting the White Helmets for years, the evacuation should not be a surprise.

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