Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says the White Helmets are terrorists posing as volunteer rescue personnel, and will likely be killed in the event that they don’t give up and lay down their arms, Russian media shops reported Thursday.
Tons of of members of the group — feted within the West and credited with saving hundreds of lives through the Syrian regime’s bombing campaigns — have been evacuated out of Syria by the Israeli navy final week, with round 50 of them anticipated to be resettled in Canada.
On the time, Syria’s overseas ministry dubbed the rescue a “felony operation” meant to destabilize its authorities.
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However Assad upped the ante Thursday, telling Russian media that the White Helmets are terrorists masquerading as volunteers, and so they face a easy alternative — give up or die.
“The destiny of the White Helmets would be the similar as for another terrorists. They’ve two selections: to put down their arms and use the amnesty now we have provided during the last 4 or 5 years, or be killed like different terrorists,” Assad mentioned in line with Russia At the moment.
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Elaborating on his allegation that the White Helmets are terrorists, Assad mentioned the group, formally known as the Syrian Civil Defence, are a entrance for the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group Al-Nusra.
“You may have movies and images of [White Helmets] holding swords and celebrating the deaths of Syrian troopers. What extra proof do you want that they don’t seem to be a humanitarian group, however a masks utilized by Al-Qaeda?” he mentioned.
Assad added that these White Helmets who fled Syria “actually didn’t flee — they have been evacuated by Israel, Jordan and the Western powers,” Sputnik Information reported.
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Each the Syrian authorities and its main ally Russia have repeatedly dismissed the White Helmets’ declare of neutrality, calling them a mix of Islamist insurgents and Western propaganda instruments.
On Thursday, a White Helmets spokesperson based mostly in Turkey appealed to the United Nations to avoid wasting his colleagues trapped in southwest Syria by advancing authorities forces.
“We wish the U.N. or any worldwide company to take away the White Helmet volunteers from Deraa to Idlib so we will proceed to work within the north of Syria” mentioned Majd Khalaf, one of many founders of the White Helmets. “It’s so onerous when White Helmets have to go away individuals behind – and so they even have to begin their lives over,” he instructed the Thomson Reuters Basis by telephone from Istanbul, Turkey.
— With information from Reuters
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