Jordan says to transfer Syria White Helmets to UK, Canada, Germany

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Israel says it has carried out an evacuation of members of Syria's White Helmets civil defence group from a war zone in south-western Syria.

Canada will resettle up to 50 White Helmets and their families, a Canadian official with direct knowledge of the resettlement efforts told CNN.

The Foreign Office is expected to help resettle the White Helmets and their families. The group would be linked to a U.S. -Russian-Jordanian center set up a year ago in Jordan for monitoring a cease-fire in southwest Syria, said Major-General Milkahil Mizintsev.

Mr Hunt and Penny Mordaunt said in a joint statement: "Following a joint diplomatic effort by the United Kingdom and global partners, a group of White Helmets volunteers from southern Syria and their families have been able to leave Syria for safety".

Jeremy Hunt, U.K's foreign secretary, called the successful evacuation "fantastic news", and thanked Israel and Jordan in a tweet for acting quickly following the request.

"We are glad that these ‎brave volunteers, who have saved thousands of lives, are now out of harm's way", said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert in a statement.

"We pay tribute to the courageous and selfless work that White Helmet volunteers have done to save Syrians on all sides of the conflict". Granting them protection is, I believe, a humanitarian duty and an expression of my policy to uphold humanity and order in migration policy.

However, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and his allies - including Russian Federation - have said they see the White Helmets as proxies of Islamist-led insurgents and Western-sponsored propaganda tools.

Critics of the move have raised doubts around the White Helmets' legitimacy as a human rights organisation, accusing them of containing within their ranks jihadists who are now set to be welcomed to Britain. It said the Syrian missiles landed inside Syrian territory just short of the Golan Heights, which have been occupied by Israel since 1967.

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But a volunteer in Daraa city, who asked to remain anonymous, said he had made a decision to stay despite being given the choice to leave. Moreover, now that Israel has helped the evacuation, they face a new charge of being "collaborators with Israel".

Another White Helmets volunteer, Mohammad Abdallah, told CNN he was told to cross to the Golan Heights without their families, "which was something rejected by us because the retribution by the Syrian regime and its allied militias is a bigger (risk to) our families".

Since its formation, when Syria's conflict was nearing its third year, more than 250 of its volunteers have been killed.

"When children, women, and men in Syria flee for their lives, the White Helmets run towards danger, towards the rubble, to save the innocent and the wounded".

Some members have received training overseas, including in Turkey, returning to instruct colleagues on search-and-rescue techniques.

Germany has provided the group with 12 million euros ($14 million) in funding since 2016. They were then escorted by Israeli and United Nations forces to a border crossing into Jordan.

Regime forces have since regained control of most of these two provinces through a combination of deadly bombardment and Moscow-brokered surrender deals.

But Syria's government and its ally Russian Federation have accused the group of links to jihadist groups.