Syrian army continues push into Quneitra amid ongoing evacuations

Syrian army continues push into Quneitra amid ongoing evacuations

The advancements come as more rebel fighters and their families departed southern Syria on Saturday as part of an evacuation deal reached with the government last week.

It added that the White Helmets and their family members were transferred to a neighbouring country, which it did not name.

In an unprecedented humanitarian operation, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) facilitated the transfer of 800 Syrian White Helmets rescuers and their families out of the besieged south of the country and on to Jordan at the request of the United States and European countries.

Foreign ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Kayed said the kingdom had accepted the members of the Syrian rescue organisation for "purely humanitarian reasons" as their lives had been at risk.

USA officials had said they were finalizing plans to evacuate several hundred Syrian civil defense workers and their families from southwest Syria as Russian-backed government forces closed in on the Quneitra province.

Syrian state TV Al-Ikhbariya reported the Israeli evacuation of the White Helmets, calling it a "scandal" and saying "terrorist groups" now have "zero options".

Russian and Syrian jets stepped up their bombing of an Islamic State bastion along the Jordan-Israel border in southwestern Syria, as the militants pushed into areas abandoned by other rebel groups, diplomatic and opposition sources said.


The offensive has restored Syrian government control over a swathe of the southwest, strategic territory at the borders with Jordan and Israel.

The Syrian and Russian air force have repeatedly targeted rescue workers, sometimes launching follow-up strikes as a team sifts the wreckage for civilians. Mr Saleh said that a number were trapped between the border with the Golan Heights.

The White Helmets have rescued thousands of civilians trapped under the rubble or caught up in fighting in opposition-held zones along the fronts of Syria's seven-year conflict.

Hundreds of rescue volunteers from the Syrian Civil Defence were evacuated to Jordan by Israel at the request of the United States and European powers.

The evacuations took place as fears mounted for the safety of the rescue workers as Syrian government forces edged closer to taking control of southern Syria. Despite worldwide pleas, Israel has consistently pushed back against global pressure to take in refugees, even as neighboring Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey have altogether accepted millions of Syrian civilians. This has left civilians stranded between the Israeli-held Golan Heights and Jordan. The Observatory said two buses carrying evacuees were held up by a pro-Syrian government militia, apparently after they went off road.

The Israeli military said it will continue to aid those in need but won't allow a massive influx of refugees into the country.

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