White Helmet rescue workers and their families were evacuated from southern Syria through the Golan Heights and into Jordan.

A general view of the transport convoy, 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.
A general view of the transport convoy, 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. (Reuters)

Israel confirmed on Sunday that it had evacuated White Helmet rescue workers and their families from southern Syria to Jordan after the government agreed to take them in.

Israel planned to evacuate 800 people but so far only 442 have been moved out of the country. Tel Aviv was acting on a special request by the US and some European countries.

From Jordan, they will be transported to UK, Canada and Germany in the next few next months.

The United Nations helped with the evacuation through the Golan Heights.

In Jordan, the foreign ministry confirmed that the evacuees entered their territory. 

The ministry's spokesman Mohammed al Kayed said the Syrians would remain in Jordan for three months.

TRT World's Sarah Firth has more details.

US officials said the White Helmets, who have enjoyed backing from the United States and other Western nations for years, were likely to be targeted by regime forces as they retook control of the southwest. 

Evacuation plans were accelerated after last week's NATO summit in Brussels.

Since the regime began its offensive in June, the area along the frontier with the Golan Heights has been the safest in the southwestern region, attracting hundreds of displaced people because it is along the disengagement line with Israel demarcated in 1974 after the war.

The Syrian government is unlikely to fire there or carry out air strikes for fear of an Israeli response.

The White Helmets typically have operated in opposition-held areas across Syria, places where government services are almost non-existent, voluntarily risking their lives to save hundreds of civilian lives during relentless government air strikes and bombardments.

Regime bombardment

Over the last month, regime forces aided by Russian air power have swept through southwestern Syria to consolidate control over this strategic corner of the country that straddles the border with Jordan and the frontier with Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

With its new advances, regime forces are, for the first time since the civil war began in 2011, retaking this territory from the rebels and restoring their positions along the disengagement line on the frontier with Israel that's part of a ceasefire agreement reached in 1974 between the two countries formally still at war.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies