Assad advance spurs 'urgent' Russia-Israel talks on Syria buffer

Israel evacuates 800 Syrian 'White Helmets' to Jordan

Canada will take in up to 50 White Helmets volunteers and their families, totalling up to 250 people, the country's public broadcaster CBC said citing senior officials.

Founded in 2013, the Syria Civil Defence, or White Helmets, are a network of first responders who rescue wounded in the aftermath of air strikes, shelling or blasts in rebel-held territory.

The rescue workers and their families crossed out of Syria into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights before arriving in Jordan.

A Jordanian foreign ministry spokesman said the kingdom had allowed the U.N.to arrange the entry and passage of the 800 West-backed opposition activists, saying that their lives were in danger after a government offensive that regained opposition-held parts of southern Syria.

More than 400 rescue workers and family members from Syria's southern provinces of Daraa and Quneitra were ferried into Israel on Sunday, then taken into Jordan for resettlement into Western countries.

"A new balance of power is being established in Syria, and White Helmets do not really have a place there, because they are evacuating their units at the same time", the expert said.

A Canadian foreign ministry statement on Saturday, quoted by the Jerusalem Post, said the White Helmets "have witnessed vicious atrocities committed by the Assad regime and its backers ..."

The rescuers and their families are expected to be resettled in Europe and Canada.

According to him, the U.S. is trying to establish their own interests as the ones who initiated the evacuation.

Cesar said he had learned of the operation a few days ago "by chance", but when he contacted White Helmets leadership, they told him it was too late to register to leave.

Germany said Monday they would be taking eight White Helmet refugees.

Through videos, pictures, and social media, the White Helmets are widely seen as having played an important role in showing the worldwide community the horrors of the Syrian civil war.

A second, non-Jordanian source familiar with the agreement said the original plan had been to evacuate 800 people, but only 422 made it out as operations were hampered by government checkpoints and the expansion of IS in the area.

After the meeting, the White Helmets members still in Syria were told their only option was to be bussed north to opposition-controlled territory under a surrender deal.

What have Israel and Jordan said?

"The White Helmets have witnessed vicious atrocities committed by the Assad regime and its backers".

It was the first such intervention the country has had in Syria's civil war, now in its eighth year.

"Jordan is willing and encouraging the return when tension calms down because the refugees constitute a heavy burden on the kingdom in the light of the worldwide community's inability to cover the costs", she said.

The Israeli army said it had evacuated the rescue workers overnight "due to an immediate threat".

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