White Helmets

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Glad to see that you also picked up on this latest development, too, C.a.

While being very disappointing because there is "so much wrong" with this decision to continue funding the propaganda machine, White Helmets, it also adds additional proof of the tremendous pressure applied to the Syrian Government and President Assad from outside foreign Countries, namely - the US Western powers, along with the Gulf countries Saudi Arabia and Qatar and the UK.

President Donald Trump has instructed the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to send $6.6Mln to the White Helmets and the UN International Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM), US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in statement on Thursday.

14.06.2018 - Trump Authorizes $6.6 Mln in Aid to White Helmets, UN Mechanism - State Dept.
Trump Authorizes $6.6Mln in Aid to White Helmets, UN Mechanism - State Dept.

"The President has authorized the United States Agency for International Development and the US Department of State to release approximately $6.6 million for the continuation of the vital, life-saving operations of the Syrian Civil Defense, more commonly known as the White Helmets, and the UN’s International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM)," the statement said.

The White Helmets is a volunteer organization, operating in parts of rebel-controlled Syria and in Turkey. The White Helmets reported in early April an alleged chemical attack in Douma, claiming it was performed by the Syrian government, which Damascus repeatedly denied.

This operation led to a series of massive missile strikes against government targets in Syria, performed by the US-led coalition.

Later, Russian journalists found the 'victims' of the alleged attack, who claimed the situation in Douma had been staged by anti-government forces.


25.05.2018 - US May Try to Rebrand White Helmets Due to Negative Publicity - Journalism Prof
US May Try to Rebrand White Helmets Due to Negative Publicity – Journalism Prof

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has promised that the US would soon make a decision on funding for the White Helmets, the 'civil defense' group Damascus and Moscow have accused of staging a chemical attack in April and of cooperating with extremist groups. Speaking to Sputnik, political journalism expert Piers Robinson laid out Washington's options.

Sputnik: Mr. Pompeo has stated that the fate of funding for Syria will soon be announced. Considering that President Trump froze US aid to Syria in March, what are the chances that Washington will reconsider its decision?

Piers Robinson: I think there is a good chance the decision will be reconsidered. We have a backdrop in Syria where decisions by Trump on withdrawal, allowing Assad to remain, etc. have been U-turned shortly afterward. So I wouldn't be surprised at all if there is a decision by Pompeo to essentially U-turn or reverse on that decision.

At the same time, another possibility is that the US will seek, especially in relation to the White Helmets, to lower the degree of exposure the American government has in terms of supporting that group because of the negative publicity surrounding it. It's most likely that there will be a shift toward providing alternative funding through different mechanisms, perhaps even some sort of exercise to try to rebrand the White Helmets.

Sputnik: What are the primary objectives of US funding in Syria? What have they spent money on in the past, and what do you think they'll be spending money on in the future?

Piers Robinson: The US has been very much involved in providing support to militant groups (and militant extremist groups as well) in Syria. A lot of this sort of support has come from Gulf State allies, etc. But some of it is a big CIA program – Timber Sycamore- which is about supporting militant groups within Syria.

That support has been historically very extensive and has been a key part in terms of driving the conflict, and clearly has been with the objective of trying to overthrow the Assad government; it's as black and white as that, I think.

Sputnik: What is your assessment of the Western media's portrayal of the White Helmets, and do you think that they have lost credibility in any way recently?

Piers Robinson: It's becoming a more controversial issue. There seem to be more people who are raising questions about the White Helmets; certainly in the British context a number of mainstream media columnists have started to question the information which is supplied by the White Helmets. They are starting to be seen as an unreliable source of information.

There are other controversies at the margins about the group's relationship to militant extremist groups, and activities they've been involved with which are clearly inconsistent with an organization which claims to be humanitarian.

Sputnik: To what extent do you think the kinds of propaganda carried out by governments has been exposed? Is this happening at all in Syria?

Piers Robinson: I think the fake news debate/crisis/controversy has tended to focus in on independent or alternative media, and also on Russian activities. I think for Western publics and Western democracies the big issue, the most important fake news, as it were, relates to the question of how governments act, particularly in wartime; the deceptive information which they might circulate in order to mobilize publics for war. That's really where the problem is with fake news, and that's where we as journalists or academics should be focusing our attention.

Sputnik: Have you or your organization faced any backlash for your research into media coverage on Syria or other conflicts?

Piers Robinson: We certainly have; we've been attacked by The Times of London; we've been attacked by the Huffington Post quite extensively in the past few months. We were even on the front page of The Times being described as 'Assad apologists', conspiracy theorists, etc.

That was unprecedented attack on academics; I don't think there has been anything of that scale [before]. But what that tells me is that we're asking the right questions. When powerful actors start to accuse you, to smear you, to engage in ad hominem attacks and so on, that's a strong indication that you're right over the target in terms of the important questions which need to be asked.

Piers Robinson is the chair in politics, society and political journalism at the University of Sheffield. He is also the cofounder of the
Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media a group analyzing media coverage of the Syrian civil war which has been accused of publishing "pro-Assad disinformation" by The Times and faced other criticisms from the mainstream media. The views and opinions expressed by Dr. Robinson are those of the expert, and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.



11.05.2018 - White Helmets 'Sooner or Later' Will be Used in Various War Contexts - Journo
White Helmets 'Sooner or Later' Will be Used in Various War Contexts - Journo

Roberto Vivaldelli, an Italian journalist and an author of the book "Fake News. Manipulations and Media Propaganda, From War in Syria to Russiagate" has commented in an interview with Sputnik on the news that the UK government may boost aid to the group White Helemts.

In your view, why is Theresa May supporting the White Helmets despite the controversial information's that exists about the group?

The White Helmets are founded by James Le Mesurier, a British private security specialist, and former British military intelligence officer. The role of this former officer has been widely described by the independent journalist Vanessa Beeley. As the Telegraph notes, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the department of the United Kingdom responsible for promoting the interests of the country abroad, is the "main source of funding" of the NGO.

This money is made through the "Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF)", a strategic fund used by the government abroad so secret that, last March, the former Conservative Defense Minister, Archie Hamilton, asked clarification of the current United Kingdom Secretary of State for Home Affairs, Amber Rudd, on how and where these contributions had been allocated — in the order of one billion pounds. Rudd explained that the names "had to remain secret in order not to create embarrassment" but admitted that those resources "make UK interests in unstable areas" and the money financing groups "like the White helmets in Syria, which do a great job".

Britain, like the United States, has excellent relations with Saudi Arabia: as we know, the Wahabite kingdom is a sworn enemy of the Syrian government. For this reason, a disinformation action, like the one carried out by the White Helmets, is absolutely necessary. And that's why Theresa May continues to finance the White Helmets.

Can Theresa May actually approve any additional funding without government approval? Is it likely that she will receive support from other MP's?

As The Guardian notes, Theresa May said: "We recognize the very important and valuable work that the White Helmets are doing. They are, as he says, doing this in horrendously difficult conditions. They are incredibly brave to be continuing that work. We do support them, we will continue to support them and… the international development secretary will be looking at the level of support in the future". I honestly do not know whether to increase the funds to be allocated to the White Helmets either in the powers of Theresa May or not. It seems to me that the Conservative Party is deployed in favor of the propaganda of Syrian rebels and then sided with the White Helmets, despite the organization's relations with the Islamist groups. I believe that the opposition should give battle on this point, to ward off a wrong choice.

The group has been accused of providing the West with media coverage that could be used as a pretext for intervention, can an increase of support from London mean that the UK has a military objective in Syria?

The Western powers, along with the Gulf countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, thought to overthrow Assad within a few months by supporting the Islamist insurrection and a bloody "proxy war". Thanks to the sacrifice of thousands of Syrian soldiers and the intervention of Iran and Russia, this did not happen. I believe that the Western powers have understood that they can no longer overthrow Assad and the aim of the regime change is completely blurred. They will try however to delegate the Syrian president through propaganda and false flag attacks such as the alleged chemical attack of last April 7th. Let us not forget that the military response of Britain, France and the US has violated international law and the charter of United Nations human rights. They acted without a shred of evidence and it is possible that they will do so in the future. But Assad will remain in power.

The US has recently halted its funding of the organization, why do you think that is?

Only 15 days before the State Department had confirmed the funding recognizing gratitude for the "great work that the White Helmets are doing for the US Government". So, I think The Trump administration moves through a contradictory and confusing strategy. Many expected the US president to take a more realistic approach, a real disengagement of the Middle East. It was not so.The decision on the White Helmets could be part of the tug of war between President Trump and the Deep State. On the one hand, Trump points to a decisive disengagement in Syria that has been repeatedly reiterated even recently; on the other, the neocons want to continue to destabilize the country. Even if the real goal, as we have seen in the last hours, remains Iran.

Some experts have noted that even if the White Helmets cease to exist another organization will be created to take its place, what are your thoughts on that?

White Helmets are revealed as a weapon of exceptional propaganda. I think we'll see them sooner or later in other war contexts.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
 

Voyageur

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Going back to the 11th of June, just before what you both cited as the US 360 turn around, the pressure was coming from the Atlantic Council; no surprise, with this 3rd party article, the backroom boys and US "Senior Officials" (it reeks of manipulation, lies and BS) - apparently there are deals into 2020 and new deals are being made:

http://www.atlanticcouncil(dot)org/blogs/syriasource/the-white-helmets-struggle-without-us-funding
The White Helmets Struggle Without US Funding
By Hosam al-Jablawi


Emergency responders clear rubble with Syria Regional Program-provided heavy machinery following a regime attack in Maaret Nouman, Idleb, in November 2014. USAID


In early May, CBS confirmed that the US administration had frozen aid to the Syrian Civil Defense organization known as the "White Helmets." The US State Department said the aid–which is part of a $200 million assistance package–has come under close review since March. Unexpectedly, the freeze came after the State Department hosted a White Helmets delegation that same month, which sparked strong positive signals afterward. Senior US officials even committed to US support for the Syrian Civil Defense until 2020.

The Syrian Civil Defense is an organization established by Syrian volunteers in 2014 to rescue the wounded from bombings and clashes. Self-organized groups had extracted civilians from the rubble of the ongoing war in Syria since 2011. Officials say they have saved more than 70,000 people since their work began. Syrian Civil Defense personnel are popular among civilians due to the extraordinary lengths to which they go to recover the wounded, help the displaced in camps, and sacrifice for the greater good without any form of compensation.

As of 2016, 106 White Helmets had lost their lives in the line of duty since the team was established in 2014. Their centers have been bombed by both the Assad regime and Russia.

Now, President Donald Trump's administration has begun practical steps towards withdrawing from northern Syria. The withdrawal began with a freeze at the end of March of more than $200 million in support funds for reconstruction and restoring stability. This decision interrupted most US-funded projects in Syria, including mine-clearance efforts, rehabilitation plans for the electricity sector, school rehabilitation, and clean water delivery. It also cut off financial support to the Syrian Civil Defense.

The United States contributes about one third of the overall funds that support the Syrian Civil Defense. Other countries–such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Turkey and Qatar–also contribute to the fund. In addition, the Civil Defense receives donations from many individuals around the world.

Commenting on the suspension of support for his organization, Syrian Civil Defense chief Raed al-Saleh denied that the decision to end this support is final. However, in an interview with the BBC, he confirmed that "some of the projects funded by Washington have already stopped." The Syrian Civil Defense said in a statement issued on May 4, "Our organization has not yet received any official notice about the suspension of funding."

"The organization’s projects will be greatly affected; civilians will pay for the decline. There is an urgent need for more equipment and more volunteers will be included to help thousands of displaced people living in the country," a senior civil defense official who preferred not to be named told SyriaSource. “The displaced live in makeshift camps, devoid of the most basic humanitarian supplies."

Al-Saleh stressed that the Civil Defense will continue its work nonetheless. "There will be no new changes to the White Helmets and they will continue to help the people," he said, adding that his organization had signed “new contracts and projects with Turkish and Qatari organizations that had not yet been announced.”

The Guardian reported that Britain is considering increasing aid to the White Helmets after the United States announced its suspension. In her comment on the US decision, British Prime Minister Teresa May said, “I understand the important and valuable work of the White Helmets…the Minister for International Development will look into the level of support given to them in the future."

Mahmoud al-Saket–a member of the US program that supports non-legal assistance to Syrian Opposition Groups, overseen by the US State Department since 2013–said that warnings regarding the suspension of US programs in northwest Syria arrived a few days ago to dozens of employees. Al-Saket said that the suspension of humanitarian programs was very surprising and significant, especially with the continuing waves of forcibly displaced persons in northern Syria and the needs of thousands of displaced Syrians for help and stability.

In the past three months alone, more than 102,000 displaced people from southern and central Syria have arrived in northern parts of the country as a result of military operations by Russia and the Assad regime against opposition-controlled areas. "The humanitarian crisis in Syria this year is worse than ever," said UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, Panos Moumtzis.

The impact of ending US support for opposition-controlled areas would be catastrophic, according to local relief official, Ahmed Jaza, who works for Ataa Relief in northern Aleppo. "Most of the existing projects in the region are supported by organizations funded by the US Department of State, in particular the support of local councils that rehabilitate the electricity and water sectors, education, set up camps, provide food to the displaced, and other projects such as support for women," he said.

Jaza noted that US support for the Syrian people's revolution is in its infancy, but he feels that the United States has now abandoned it halfway. Cutting support at such a time, as he sees it, "will end humanitarian activities, increase the risk of starvation, and allow extremist ideologies to flourish."

Additionally, according to Jaza, the transfer of US support to areas controlled by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in eastern Syria will inflame sectarian issues, further building resentment amongst different ethnic groups.

US abdication of support for opposition-held areas was expected, given the recent US-Turkish tension after the Afrin military operation and the entry of Turkish troops into northern Syria. In addition, the US still lacks a clear strategy toward the conflict in Syria.

The US-Syria policy is widely criticized among Syrians. A US withdrawal from Syria has major implications for the future of the conflict, not least of which includes: the expansion of Russian and Iranian influence in Syria, the Assad regime's approach to resolving the conflict, and impunity for crimes committed during the years of the Syrian revolution. In addition, the cessation of aid for reconstruction and restoring stability in liberated areas will contribute to the continued suffering of Syrian residents in these areas as they struggle to meet their basic needs.
 

c.a.

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Busy Lady's owo! :cool2:


The Last American Vagabond
Joining me once again is someone that I greatly respect, not just for her excellent journalism and dedication to the truth, but for her willingness to put herself out there challenging the status quo in a time of such vicious and vitriolic opposition to anything that goes against the lies of the State, which makes it all the more important to stand against. And that is Vanessa Beeley.


 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
:violin::violin::violin:Concerto in 5D Major ...

July 14, 2018 - Western allies plan White Helmets evacuation from Syria (Video)
Western allies plan White Helmets evacuation from Syria

As Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's regime violently assaults the southern region of Syria, an area formerly protected by the Trump administration, the members of the all-volunteer rescue organization known as the White Helmets are in danger of assassination. Once favorites to win the Nobel Peace Prize for their life-saving efforts in rebel-held territory throughout Syria's brutal seven-year war, these rescue workers are now in need of rescuing themselves.

CBS News has learned the question of how to extract the emergency workers was raised with President Trump in multiple conversations with allied countries on the sidelines of the NATO summit. The Netherlands, U.K., France, Canada and Germany are scrambling to find a way to save the lives of an estimated 1,000 volunteers and their family members. Around 300 of them are considered to be in imminent danger.

Prime Minister Theresa May personally brought up the emergency issue during her meeting with Mr. Trump in the U.K. Formally known as the Syrian Civil Defense group, the White Helmets expect to be marked as resistance targets and slaughtered by Assad's forces, which are backed by Iranian and Russian firepower.

They are promising no retribution on anyone in the southwest but nobody trusts or believes that," a senior U.S. official told CBS News.

The emergency talks were triggered in recent weeks as aid groups working with the White Helmets struck an increasingly alarmist tone as they watched Assad's forces close in on territory that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mr. Trump had once agreed would be part of a U.S.-protected safe zone. Despite that 2017 agreement to carve out safe zones, the Trump administration decided not to take action to stop the current military assault.

Sources tell CBS News that the issue may come up when Mr. Trump meets with Putin on Monday.

U.S. officials and Western diplomats, however, say that this evacuation has not been formalized on the agenda because they are not sure if the Russians can be trusted to help. Moscow has labeled the White Helmets a terrorist group and lead a disinformation campaign against them -- even claiming that their video evidence of Assad's brutal chemical and conventional attacks on civilians was falsified.

Ideally, the countries would find a way to facilitate an escape without having to ask for Putin's help. Dozens of ground escape routes are being explored at this time, according to a Western diplomat. But roadblocks stand in the way at every turn, especially given the fast pace of the Syrian regime's assault. If a ground evacuation is not possible, Russia would need to be involved in an air escape.

But Putin, who is a close ally of Assad, does not have a reliable track record of following through with diplomatic agreements in Syria. That is why the diplomats studying this complex evacuation have not decided whether or not the topic will be breached during the presidential summit.

"We are not there yet at all in terms of firming up the necessity to have a discussion with Putin," explained a Western diplomat. "If we run out of options, and the only option left is the Russians, then it is worth pursuing."

There is no guarantee that the Kremlin won't use information about the White Helmets' exact whereabouts to enable their slaughter, rather than to save them.

One other complication: the U.S. travel ban specifically bars Syrian nationals from entering the United States. The Trump administration has offered to provide financial help to those who are successfully evacuated but has refused to allow any of them to seek safe haven on U.S. soil. Canada is said to be in consideration as a place for them to resettle. Neighboring countries of Jordan and Israel, which recently shut their borders to fleeing refugees, would also likely play a role.

Last year the Trump administration was able to strike an agreement with Russia and Jordan to establish a de-escalation area or so-called safe zone. It was announced as a breakthrough agreed to personally by Presidents Trump and Putin when they met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. Yet Russia has broken that agreement in enabling the Assad regime's expanding military assault in that exact area.

So far, the U.S. government has not taken action to stop this offensive. As a result, refugees and U.S.- backed rebels are left without protection. Earlier this month the U.N. estimated the recent violence had left 750,000 lives are in danger and displaced more than 320,000 people in southwest Syria.

Mr. Trump has declared that he wants to see a quick exit from Syria and signaled that he wants to draw down the roughly 2,000 U.S. troops advising and assisting local fighters. His freeze on emergency assistance appears to have thawed. After withholding all support for the White Helmets earlier this year, the administration authorized $6.6 million in assistance for the group last month. But there is still no movement on the additional $193.4 million for stabilization funding for Syria as a whole, which was put on hold earlier this year.

This recent effort to get the White Helmets out of the country is in keeping with the administration's plans for complete withdrawal.

"This effort says we are in the evacuation phase. It is an admission that the regime is going to regain control of the country and the White Helmets can't remain," said a U.S. government official. "Or else the regime will take repercussions on them."

Even if this effort does succeed, Syrian opposition leaders on the ground are wary of more bloodshed in Syria. They say that evacuating the rescue fighters would be have an impact on some Syrians, but only minimally, and they think there is no way to rescue all the Syrians that the Assad regime will target.

"Daraa is the cradle of the revolution. It is where protests began," Raed Fares, a citizen journalist and activist in Syria, told CBS News. "There are not just the White Helmets in Daraa. There are more than 1 million people there. And all of them are targets for the regime."

Fares, who has faced three murder attempts and been kidnapped 5 times since the civil war broke out, was in Washington last week meeting with officials at the White House, the State Department and on the hill. He has supported civil society in Syria with tangible action -- including the launch of a radio program, four women's centers and 12 children centers. He talked with CBS News about his D.C. meetings.

"We love you,' they told me," Fares said wryly, indicating in his expression that these were not statements he took at face value. "But they said it was all Mr. Trump and [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo." No one could assure him that the U.S. would be providing additional support on the ground, beyond limited efforts to get out some of the White Helmets.

Fares and many Syrians are worried that with the Trump administration's withdrawal of support for civil society in the country, other countries will follow suit. But Fares says he will stay, and he will keep fighting Assad.

"It is going to turn into a massacre again. Maybe worse than before. Assad is going to come for Idlib next," Fares said of a city in northwest Syria which is still held by Syrian rebels. "But I will not leave. Even if I have no money, I am not going to stop."


June 18, 2018 - The White Helmets: Fighting for life in Syria's vicious civil war (Video)
The White Helmets: Fighting for life in Syria's vicious civil war

Scott Pelley Correspondent, "60 Minutes"

“If there is meaning to the word courage,” said a Syrian journalist, “it is represented by the Civil Defense." Also known as the White Helmets, the trained force of 3,000 rescue workers offer Syrian civilians their only hope.

A great city that once held more than two million people is on the edge of surrender after five years of siege and starvation. Aleppo was the center of the rebellion against the Syrian dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad. When our story first aired in December, Assad and his Russian ally, intensified their air strikes against Aleppo's dense neighborhoods. For civilians, under this bombardment, the greatest fear is to be buried alive -- to suffocate or bleed to death in the rubble of their own home. Their only hope is the Syrian Civil Defense, a self-appointed, all Syrian, volunteer force of rescue workers who call themselves the White Helmets. (To support the White Helmets, visit their website)

The airstrikes, day and night, obliterate apartments and shatter the nerves. Often, the bombs are not aimed at military targets -- they're not aimed at all -- just a barrel of shrapnel and TNT, heaved from a helicopter, onto any neighborhood the Assad dictatorship does not control.

Rami Jarrah: It's to terrorize people in this area. It's to tell these people that, "You're not welcome here and we want you out."

Rami Jarrah is a Syrian reporter who's followed the White Helmets from their makeshift beginnings to today's trained force of 3,000 rescue workers.

Rami Jarrah: They provide some sort of security or safety or some sort of hope to civilians that live in this area that even if you are attacked, even if your building comes down, there is someone that's going to come and save you.

Scott Pelley: You are not alone.

Rami Jarrah: You're not alone, yes.

This little boy was alone and nearly invisible when the White Helmets happened to spot just his hair in the pulverized concrete of his home. Bare hands were in a race with suffocation.

Rami Jarrah: I think for them it's luck. It's that-- that they dig any rubble that they see to get those people out. They frantically dig through every part of any apartment building or anything that's been destroyed to check. They're usually there for hours after the attack.

Scott Pelley: How many hours?

Rami Jarrah: How many hours? Six, seven hours, I've seen them operate continuously.

This is that same boy, his face freed. They excavated the ruin hour-by-hour. The White Helmets say they have saved 90,000. And with each, they shout their gratitude to God.

Majd Khalaf and Rady Saad have been White Helmets three years.

Khalaf said, "We feel as if we've brought that person back to life. The joy at that moment is indescribable."

Scott Pelley: Tell me about the hardest rescue you've ever done.

"There was a woman and her husband," he told us. "Only four of her fingers were sticking out of the rubble. We could see her moving her fingers like this. So my colleagues dug her out. And the first thing she asked about was her husband, they'd been married to for 10 days. Unfortunately, her husband had been killed."

Fingers, or here, the leg of a boy, are clues in a chaos of concrete. The leg led to hips and a torso -- body parts are expected -- but then they uncover a face, but more often than anyone could expect, life is resurrected from a shallow grave.

Scott Pelley: When you uncover one of these faces covered with dust, and the eyes open, what is that moment like for you?

Rady Saad told us, "I don't have any feelings. I have a goal. The goal is to save the most people in the least amount of time. But when I go home, I've spent nights crying, really crying."

Day after day, building after building, hour after hour, victim after victim, how do you keep going?

"There are a lot of people who need our help," he said.

"There's a 50 percent chance in every operation that I'll live and 50 percent chance that I'll die. But in the end, I've left my mark. I've left children who are going to live and complete our future."

Rady Saad calculates his odds at 50/50 because the White Helmets themselves are targets of the Assad regime.

Rami Jarrah: The plane doesn't attack once. It usually attacks twice or three times. So the Civil Defense are able to actually continue doing their work even understanding that that plane is waitin' for people to gather up because it wants to come back and attack when there's a large crowd of people.

The White Helmets call that second bomb run, the one aimed at them, a double tap. And it happened during this rescue in Aleppo.

Raed Saleh wears the loss of his men and his country. He once owned an electronics business. The White Helmets in more than 100 towns elected him their leader.

Scott Pelley: How many of your people have you lost?

He told us a White Helmet had been killed that morning. And as of last week, Saleh has lost more than 190 volunteers.

Scott Pelley: How did the White Helmets begin?

"After several bombings," he said, "there were individual initiatives by regular people—tailors, blacksmiths, carpenters, university students, doctors; people from different backgrounds—who formed teams to respond to emergencies in a more organized fashion. After that, there was communication with outside organizations who began to train these teams."

This is the training in a country we agreed not to name. Elite disaster teams from other nations teach the use of microphones, to sense vibrations, and cameras to peer into crevices. The United States chipped in $29 million for this, about a quarter of the White Helmets' budget.

This home was blasted into a family's tomb. The only thing escaping was one, faint, voice. A White Helmet, searching, calls out…

"…Brother can you see our light?" The voice replies, "Something's on my back." He's right. It's the roof. But for an inch, the 16-year-old boy would be dead. You're looking at him, right there, face down, this is his shoulder and his right arm, already in a cast. No architect's calculation of blast loading or lateral resistance can explain the simple miracles of survival.

After seven hours, it appears the boy emerged an orphan and only child. Everyone else in the house was dead.

Hadi al-Abdullah is a Syrian journalist who posts stories of the White Helmets on YouTube.

"If there is meaning to the word courage," he said, "it is represented by the Civil Defense."

Abdullah's stories caught the disapproving notice of the Assad dictatorship. And last June, the door of his apartment building was connected to a bomb.

"Without me hearing any explosion," he said, "there was stone and steel on top of me and I couldn't move any of my limbs."

Rescue workers he'd covered, came to uncover him.

"When I heard the sound of the Civil Defense bulldozer, I started to feel some hope that I might live." "Slowly, the stone started to be removed, rock by rock. All of the weight started to lessen."

Scott Pelley: Just hearing their voices gave you hope that you would live?

"Exactly," he said. "I was able to breathe, to hear their voices. It was difficult to open my eyes but I opened them a little and saw them, wearing their white helmets. I was so happy that I was out of the rubble."

Scott Pelley: They said you were going to die, and then you returned to life.

Abdullah endured more than half a dozen surgeries, then, returned to Syria in a wheelchair to continue his reporting.

In Turkey, we visited this clinic for Syrian amputees and you find most everyone owes their life to the White Helmets.

Scott Pelley: Was your leg completely severed?

"Yes," he told us. "When the Civil Defense came, they tied [my leg] for me from here, with a cord."

Scott Pelley: They tied a tourniquet around your leg.

"Then they put us on stretchers and took us to the field hospital."

"They didn't leave me there to bleed to death," she said. "I would be in heaven if not for the Civil Defense."

It seems, in every rescue there are children. This man flailed for freedom and just below him, a child's head, inches this side of the living. This woman told us her entire family was buried. And she was rescued first.

"I didn't expect my son would survive," she told us. "He was only 10 days old."

But after 16 hours of labor, her baby was brought into the world, a second time.

"Everyone told me that he's a miracle child. It really is a miracle."

Three years later, her son is all she has. Her husband and daughter are dead. The man who saved her boy, 31-year-old Khaled Harrah, was later killed in a double tap. He had two children and another on the way.

The White Helmets respond to an average of 35 attacks a day. Fighting for life in a vicious war, they were nominated, last year, for the Nobel Peace Prize. Syria has descended into murder on an industrial scale. But on the outer limits of cruelty, humanity begins.
 

c.a.

The Living Force
FOTCM Member

PressTV-West scrambles to evacuate White Helmets from Syria
Western countries have reportedly been scrambling to evacuate "volunteer" White Helmets from Syria, who have been accused of cooperating with Takfiri terrorists and staging false flag gas attacks.

CBS News broadcasting service reported on Saturday that White Helmets members are in danger of assassination and in need of rescue as the Syrian army intensifies its counter-terrorism operation in the country's southern part.

The report said the issue of the White helmets' withdrawal from Syria had been raised with US President Donald Trump in multiple conversations with allied countries on the sidelines of the July 11-12 NATO summit in Brussels.

The Netherlands, Britain, France, Canada and Germany have been trying to find a way to get an estimated 1,000 White Helmets volunteers and their family members out of Syria, the report added.

British Prime Minister Theresa May brought up the issue during her meeting with Trump in the UK, and that the topic may also be discussed at Trump's upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The White Helmets was founded in Turkey in 2013 by former British MI5 officer James Le Mesurier.

Since its establishment, the group has received at least $55 million from the British Foreign Office, $23 million or more from the US Office of Transition Initiatives and untold millions from Qatar.

US officials and Western diplomats say the evacuation has not been formalized on the agenda of the July 16 Trump-Putin meeting due to uncertainty about the Russians' help in the process, The CBS News said.

"We are not there yet at all in terms of firming up the necessity to have a discussion with Putin," a Western diplomat said. "If we run out of options, and the only option left is the Russians, then it is worth pursuing."

A US government official stressed that efforts to evacuate the White Helmets from Syria is in line with the Trump administration's plans for a withdrawal from the Arab country.

"This effort says we are in the evacuation phase. It is an admission that the regime is going to regain control of the country and the White Helmets can't remain," he said. "Or else the regime will take repercussions on them."

Back in March, Trump ordered the State Department to suspend $200 million in recovery funds for Syria, including aid to the White Helmets, amid a review of the future of the US role in the war-torn country.

Three months later, however, Trump authorized the release of $6.6 million in previously frozen funding for a volunteer organization, without referring to the $193.4 million that remains frozen.

Both Damascus and Moscow have accused the volunteer group of having staged the suspected chemical weapons attack in the town of Douma in Syria's Eastern Ghouta region on April 7.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad described the White Helmets as "a branch of al-Qaeda and al-Nusra" militant groups and a “PR stunt” by the US, the UK and France.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the group claims to be a humanitarian NGO, but actually supports terrorists and covers up their crimes.

"The White Helmets not only feel at home on Jabhat al-Nusra and Daesh-controlled territories but openly sympathize with them and provide them with information and even financial support. How is that for double standards? There is documentary evidence of the White Helmets’ involvement in some of al-Nusra’s operations and cover-up over civilian deaths," she said.

Deep State Moves
White Helmets, terrorists with a facelift
23.04.2018
 
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