Syria’s Grand Mufti has said that Russia and Syria must hunt down and prosecute members of the White Helmets for “war crimes,” after Israel “evacuated” hundreds of the group’s members at the request of the US and Canada.
Syrian President Bashar Assad says the White Helmets are al-Qaeda members and the Russian Foreign Ministry has slammed the group for their involvement in a defamation campaign targeting the Syrian government.
Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun said on Monday: “These people are not refugees. They are war criminals. I’d like to ask the governments of our two countries [Syria and Russia] to pursue the members of the White Helmets group. To find them anywhere they might be”
RT reports: Hassoun was meeting families of five Russian servicemen, who were killed while fighting terrorists in Syria. The relatives of the fallen soldiers were invited to visit Syria by President Bashar Assad.
Hassoun branded the White Helmets group “terrorists” and squarely blamed them for the use of chemical weapons against civilians. While the White Helmets advertise themselves as a humanitarian group and Syria’s “civil defense” they operate exclusively in militant controlled areas. The group, praised in the West as “rescuers” has been repeatedly accused of closely cooperating with terrorists and staging chemical attacks to frame Syria’s government.
On Sunday, the Israeli military said it evacuated a number of the group’s members and their families from Syria to Jordan at the request of the US, Canada and some European countries. The initial plan involved the evacuation of 800 people, yet only 422 made it to Jordan, according to the country’s authorities.
Tel Aviv’s move was condemned by Syria’s government, which said that the “criminal operation” to rescue the White Helmets is further proof of Israel’s support towards terrorists. It has long accused Tel Aviv of tending to injured Syrian militants, distributing “humanitarian aid” to militant-controlled areas and repeatedly attacking Syria’s government troops over alleged Iranian military buildup.
The evacuated members of the White Helmets are expected to be resettled in Canada, Germany and some other countries. Such destinations have clearly shown who the true masters of the group are, Hassoun said.
“We’d like to ask why they are not fleeing to Syria, why they don’t want to return to the Syrian society? There’s only one answer – they are the force, which the West counted on to destroy the Syrian society,” he stressed.
Moscow also said on Monday that the evacuation of the group reveals their true nature and the hypocrisy of the non-governmental organization.
In a statement the Russian foreign ministry said “It is well known that the White Helmets has been involved in the most odious provocations during the Syrian conflict. It was carrying out activities only on the territories controlled by Islamic radicals. It was preparing blatant fakes, which were then used as a pretext for making accusations against the Syrian authorities,” adding that”It is symbolic that the White Helmets activists have opted to flee Syria with foreign support thus revealing their true nature and exposing their hypocrisy to the whole world”