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

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

Eight hundred so-called "White Helmets" and their family members had taken refuge in Quneitra, the one small part of southern Syria not already under the control of Russian-backed regime forces.

A military source said in a statement to Syria's state agency SANA that a military site in Masyaf in Hama countryside was targeted by an Israeli aerial aggression, causing only material damage.

In the southwestern campaign, however, the White Helmets said the deals agreed "did not include any guarantees of safe passage for displaced humanitarian workers to other areas of Syria", making the global evacuation necessary.

A spokesman for the Israel Defence Forces said the operation was an "exceptional humanitarian gesture".

Hundreds of volunteer rescuers have been evacuated from southwest Syria for resettlement in Britain, Canada and Germany.

Syrian Civil Defence volunteers, also known as the White Helmets, and Syrian Red Crescent members evacuate a wounded woman following a reported airstrike that targeted the Idlib bus station on January 18, 2017.

The White Helmets came to prominence in 2012 for their work rescuing those trapped in rubble after air raids by Syrian government and Russian fighter jets.

The offensive, begun in June, has seen a number of agreements that have led to the evacuation of rebel forces from the Deraa and Quneitra areas to regions further north.

Russian and Syrian jets stepped up their bombing of an Islamic State bastion along the Jordan-Israel border in southwestern Syria, as the militants pushed into areas abandoned by other rebel groups, diplomatic and opposition sources said.

The two leaders have held a number of discussions in recent months on the Syrian conflict and Iran's military presence there, which Israel opposes.

The evacuees will be kept in a "closed" location in Jordan and resettled in Britain, Germany and Canada within three months, the source said.

It marked the first such Israeli intervention in Syria's civil war, now in its eighth year.

Its members say they are neutral, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and his Russian ally accuse the White Helmets of being tools of their worldwide donors. The group says it has saved over 114,000 lives and has lost the lives of 204 White Helmet volunteers since its founding in 2014.

"We pay tribute to the courageous and selfless work that White Helmets volunteers have done to save Syrians on all sides of the conflict".

Following the meeting, a senior Israeli official said that Israel had rejected a Russian offer to keep Iranian forces in Syria 100 kilometers (62 miles) away from Israel's northern border, reported Times of Israel.

The Israeli army carried out Sunday night an aggression on a Syrian military site in Masyaf area in Hama countryside.

A series of strikes that have killed Iranians in Syria have been attributed to Israel.

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