Russia-Canada clash of opinions on the White Helmets

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White Helmets Kafrowaid 21-3-2017 (Wikimedia Commons)

Who is who in the Syrian conflict

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation negatively reacted to an emergency evacuation of the White Helmet volunteers with their families from southwest Syria, conceived by the U.K., Germany and Canada and supported by Israel, Jordan and the United States.

On July 23, 2018, the Russian Ministry published the comment on their official website, calling the Syrian White Helmets “pseudo-humanitarians” and accusing them of “the most odious provocations during the Syrian conflict.” The major alleged accusation made by Russia toward this rescue group was staging and shooting propaganda videos, blaming the existing Syrian regime for chemical attacks, etc. “It is symbolic that the White Helmets chose to flee Syria with foreign intervention, thus revealing who they really are and demonstrating their hypocrisy to the entire world,” stated the Russian foreign agency.

The White Helmets, also known as the Syria Civil Defence, was officially formed as an organization in October 2014 out of random Syrian volunteers who emerged in 2012-2013 in rebel-controlled territories due to the escalation of fighting. According to the group, it consists of 3,922 volunteers who managed to save more than 104,933 lives at the expense of 251 White Helmet workers having been killed, which is why it was nominated for a Nobel Prize. As stated on their website, Syria Civil Defence receives funding from the governments of the U.K., Holland, Denmark, Germany, Canada, New Zealand and the U.S.A. With the intensification of the Syrian regime attack on southern Syria in the middle of June 2018, taking control of the former rebel territories, the rescue operation was prepared and carried out by efforts of several western allies, including Canada. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he agreed to let 800 Syrians cross through Israel to Jordan, after an appeal from the U.S. President Donald Trump and the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. But, as reported by the White Helmets, only 422 people “arrived in Jordan through the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.” Others, apparently, couldn’t reach designated points of the frontier on July 22. As it was agreed with Jordan, the rescued Syrians would stay in the country for three months until resettled by Canada, Germany and the U.K. The Canadian government “agreed to accept up to 50 of the White Helmet volunteers and their families, which could mean up to 250 people,” reports CBC, referring to information obtained from some senior officials. The Syrian organization thanked all governments who contributed to the success of this operation, having mentioned that “it was the only alternative for their trapped volunteers who would otherwise have faced detention or death at the hands of the Syrian regime and its ally Russia.”

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