One day after Israel evacuated some 800 Syrian White Helmets to Jordan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the action "an important humanitarian step," according to a statement his office released on Sunday.
"In the last few days, United States President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and several others asked for our help in assisting hundreds of Syrian 'white helmets.' These are people that saved lives and were found in life-threatening danger. I therefore permitted their transfer through Israel to additional countries, as an important humanitarian step."
"In parallel, we are not stopping to act in Syria against the attempts of military entrenchment of Iran there."
The Syrian regime launched a large offensive in June that has retaken the rebel-held areas in Dara’a and Quneitra bordering Jordan and the Golan. The Syrian rebels agreed to a reconciliation with the regime Friday and their areas were mostly surrendered by Saturday night, leaving only a sliver of territory near the border and within the 1974 ceasefire lines.
Britain hailed the evacuation, saying it and other allies had requested it.
"Fantastic news that we - UK and friends - have secured evacuation of White Helmets and their families - thank you Israel and Jordan for acting so quickly on our request," tweeted British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said, "I had the privilege to work with the Israeli government and my incredible colleagues at State and NSC in coordinating Israel's daring rescue of [White Helmets] and their families from Syria."
German weekly magazine Bild
, which broke news of the evacuation and published footage of buses used to transport the Syrians across Golan, said 50 of them would be granted asylum by Berlin.
"Humanity dictates that many of these brave first-aiders should now find protection and refuge, some of them in Germany,” it quoted German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas as saying.
A spokeswoman for the German interior ministry said Berlin would take in eight White Helmets plus their families. It was not immediately clear if that amounted to the same 50 people.
A Canadian Foreign Ministry statement on Saturday said the White Helmets "have witnessed vicious atrocities committed by the Assad regime and its backers." It added: "We feel a deep moral responsibility to these brave and selfless people."Seth J. Frantzman and Reuters contributed to this report.
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