Members of the Civil Defence rescue children after what activists said was an air strike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in al-Shaar neighbourhood of Aleppo June 2, 2014. (Sultan Kitaz/REUTERS)

Ottawa offers to resettle dozens of Syrian rescue workers

Share

Canada is prepared to take up to 50 Syrian White Helmets as well as members of their families, which would amount to up to 250 people, following a dramatic rescue over the weekend facilitated by the Israeli military, according to Canadian officials.

The Trudeau government has been working with Britain and Germany, as well as Israel, to extract hundreds of the civil defence volunteers trapped by the Syrian government offensive in the south-west of the country, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said over the weekend.

The rescue operation saw the Israeli military slip hundreds of people from Syria to Jordan, though the exact numbers were still being determined; Jordanian officials initially said 800 Syrians were rescued, though that number was later revised to around 422.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he authorized the action after receiving requests for assistance from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump.

“These are people who have saved lives and whose lives were in danger,” Netanyahu said. “Therefore, I approved their passage through Israel to additional countries, as an important humanitarian gesture.”

Leveraging ‘special relation’ with Israel

An Israeli solider hands out water on 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)

Trudeau and Netanyahu also spoke on the phone on Sunday, according to a readout of the conversation provided by the Prime Minister’s Office.

“They discussed the regional security situation and the evacuation of White Helmets from Syria,” the readout said.

“Prime Minister Trudeau and Prime Minister Netanyahu reinforced the benefits of the close cooperation between Canada and Israel.”

Named for their trademark safety helmets, the White Helmets have been lauded and supported by Canada and other Western nations for their role as first responders and humanitarian workers who have saved hundreds of lives during Syria’s brutal civil war.

However, both Syria and Russia have accused the group of ties with extremist forces and of falsifying reports of casualties to justify Western intervention on behalf of the armed opposition.

A Syrian Foreign Ministry official described the evacuation as a “criminal operation carried out by Israel and its tools in the region,” according to Syria’s official SANA news agency.

“The smuggling of hundreds of the ‘White Helmets’ terrorist group … in cooperation with the governments of the United States, Britain, Jordan, Germany and Canada reveals the support given by these countries to these terror groups in their aggression against the Syrians,” the unnamed official was quoted by the news agency.

Target of Syrian and Russian propaganda efforts

A girl looks on following alleged chemical weapons attack, in what is said to be Douma, Syria in this still image from video obtained by Reuters on April 8, 2018. Russia has accused the White Helmets of staging the entire incident. (White Helmets/Reuters TV via REUTERS)

The all-volunteer group denies the charges, saying it is neutral and its aims are humanitarian.

The White Helmets have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

“Unfortunately, it comes as no surprise that the murderous Assad regime is desperately seeking to discredit the brave White Helmets, who have consistently risked and given their lives to save the very civilians that the Assad regime continues to target,” said Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Brittany Fletcher.

Canada and partner nations have written jointly to the UN Secretary General António Guterres regarding “the cowardly attempts to discredit the White Helmets,” a Canadian official speaking on background said.

Residents and civil defense members look for survivors at a damaged site after what activists said was a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in the Al-Shaar nighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria September 17, 2015. (Abdalrhman Ismail/REUTERS)

Canada has been among several countries that have provided moral and financial support to the White Helmets, which are officially known as Syria Civil Defence, including $7.5 million for two projects to help recruit and train women rescuers over the past two years.

‘‘The White Helmets are courageous volunteers and first responders who risk their lives to help their fellow Syrians who have been targeted by senseless violence,” Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement on Saturday.

“We feel a deep moral responsibility towards these brave and selfless people.”

Exactly when the White Helmets will arrive is unclear; the rescued Syrians are expected to remain in a UN refugee camp in Jordan for at least three months to allow for processing.

With files from The Canadian Press

Share
Categories: Immigration & Refugees, International, Politics
Tags: , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*

2 comments on “Ottawa offers to resettle dozens of Syrian rescue workers
  1. Avatar Joe Karl says:

    may be its true

  2. Avatar Peter Ashcroft says:

    This is great news for this ‘White Helmets’ Syrian Civil Defence volunteer force which is now been targeted by President Assad’s murderous army, with Putin’s Russian support.
    Crimes against humanity are common in this Moslem State