Syrian army retakes territories near Golan Heights

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 Syria Jun 2 2014. Reuters

Over the last month, Syrian government forces aided by Russian air power have swept through southwestern Syria to consolidate government control over this strategic corner of the country that straddles the border with Jordan and the frontier with Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The UK, Germany, and Canada will help to permanently resettle these evacuees, reportedly within a three month time period.

From the 800, 378 remain stuck and it's unclear how many other White Helmet volunteers are also trying to get across. After this evacuation, there remain more than 3000 members in the country, many of whom are civilian volunteers, who travel to the scenes of air strikes and other bombardments to rescue those trapped in the rubble.

How did the operation come about?

Last week the Syrian regime reached a deal through which the rebel groups in the area, defeated and encircled, could surrender.

The Israeli army said Sunday that the United States and European countries had asked for help with the evacuation of the civilians "due to an immediate threat to their lives".

How was it carried out?

The plan had been to evacuate 800 White Helmets and their families, but only 422 made it.

"The criminal operation that Israel and its tools conducted in the area reveals the true nature of the so-called White Helmets", a source at the foreign ministry was quoted by Syria's state news agency SANA as saying.

The Israeli military said it will continue to aid those in need but won't allow a massive influx of refugees into the country.

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Israel, which technically remains in a state of war with Syria, has been watching the development near its border closely.

It was the second suspected attack in a week by Israel on army installations that the Syrian opposition and Western intelligence sources say have an Iranian military presence. They also became witnesses to the numerous war crimes committed by Syrian President Bashar Assad and the Russian military as both deliberately targeted civilian structures in bombing raids.

The White Helmet members and their families will be held in a "restricted area" of Jordan.

The Government said the United Kingdom would provide protection to "as numerous volunteers and their families as possible".

He believes in some areas of the Syrian conflict, the White Helmets have played a controversial role and that the evacuation operation may have been hampered by militants being in area.

Who are the White Helmets?

Syria splintered into civil war in 2011 when Assad's regime violently repressed demonstrations against his rule during the pro-democracy Arab spring.

The members of the Syrian Civil Defense, more commonly known as the White Helmets, were evacuated overnight Saturday and transferred through Israeli to Jordan, according to Reuters.

Numbering about 3,000 volunteers, they also carry out essential fix works. About 200 White Helmets members have been killed in the conflict.

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