The Syrian Civil Defense organization, also known as the White Helmets, on Monday released a statement regarding the operation in which hundreds of its members were rescued from Syria and transferred to Jordan.
The White Helmets thanked the countries which assisted in the operation but did not mention Israel, which assisted in the operation, likely due to concerns of being accused of “collaborating” with Israel.
“98 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,” said the statement.
“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,” it added.
“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,” said the organization.
“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.”
The IDF confirmed on Sunday that it had competed a “humanitarian effort” on behalf of Syrian civilians, after the German newspaper Bild reported that Israel had helped evacuate 800 members of the White Helmets from southwest Syria.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu later explained that Israel had received a special request from U.S. President Donald Trump to assist the roughly 800 Syrian civilians.
Later on Sunday, the IDF released footage from the rescue operation, showing buses of Syrian civilians being transferred through Israeli territory to Jordan.
Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations, on Sunday night praised the IDF for the rescue operation, calling it “daring”.
Syria, on the other hand, strongly condemned Israel’s of evacuating the White Helmets from the war-torn country, referring to the rescue operation as a “criminal operation”.
“Israel has always lied claiming that it doesn’t have a relation to the war waged on Syria,” charged an official source in the Syrian foreign ministry, according to the Syrian official news agency SANA.
The source referred to the “White Helmets” as a “terrorist organization” and added, “(Israel) has smuggled hundreds of members of the ‘White Helmets’ terrorist organization and of the leaders of other armed terrorist organizations in cooperation with the governments of the U.S., Britain, Jordan and Germany.”