Western allies are beginning to worry about unarmed volunteers in Syria, known as the White Helmets, as several regions of the countries are being recaptured by the Syrian government’s forces.
The United States, the UK, Canada, and France, among other countries, have started discussing the possible evacuations and the uncertain fate of the 1000 volunteers and their families, a diplomatic source familiar with the subject said. Around 300 of them are considered to be in imminent danger.
The Trump administration expressed concern about these volunteers but declined to disclose anything related to efforts to rescue them.
“We are concerned about the humanitarian situation in the southwest since the Syrian regime and Russia violated the ceasefire,” National Security Council spokesperson Garrett Marquis said in a statement to CBS News‘ Margaret Brennan. “This includes the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the fighting. Among them are many who fear regime reprisals, including specific groups, such as the White Helmets.”
A senior U.S. official said that even though Bashar al-Assad’s regime promises “no retribution on anyone in the southwest,” no one believes such empty promises.
CNN writes that the plans currently under discussion entail that the volunteer rescue workers are resettled in several countries, possibly in Canada and the United Kingdom, or even Germany.
The possible evacuation was discussed during last week’s meetings of President Donald Trump with NATO allies, who a source said convinced Trump to help lobby both Israel and Jordan to find escape routes for besieged rescuers.
The White Helmets have been labeled terrorists by both the Syrian regime and the Russian government. It is likely that Russia’s Vladimir Putin discusses the safety of these people with President Trump when the two meet in Helsinki, although there is some concern about whether Moscow can be trusted on the issue, the source added.
That is why Western allies are hoping to evacuate the group without the help of Moscow.