Damascus criticizes White Helmet evacuation as ‘criminal operation’

People walk past Israeli soldiers as they board a bus during the Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, extraction from the Golan Heights, Israel in this still image taken from video, provided by the Israeli Army July 22, 2018. Israeli Army Handout via REUTERS

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The Syrian government on Monday condemned the evacuation of hundreds of Syrian White Helmet rescue workers who fled the country with help from Israel into Jordan, calling it a “criminal operation” undertaken by “Israel and its tools”.

People walk past Israeli soldiers as they board a bus during the Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, extraction from the Golan Heights, Israel in this still image taken from video, provided by the Israeli Army July 22, 2018. Israeli Army Handout via REUTERS

The rescue workers and their families crossed out of Syria into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights before arriving in Jordan. Israel said it had helped with the evacuation at the request of U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders – and there had been fears that the workers’ lives were at risk.

The Syrian government has accused the White Helmets, also known as the Syrian Civil Defence, of being agents of foreign enemies and working with insurgents fighting President Bashar al-Assad.

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