Syrian army continues push into Quneitra amid ongoing evacuations

Syrian army pushes into Quneitra province: state tv, rebels

Hundreds of aid workers of the "White Helmet" civil defence group and their families were evacuated from Syria early Sunday in an global operation that transported them through Israel and into Jordan as the forces of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad closed in.

The Israeli Defense Forces said in a statement that the operation had been carried out due to an "immediate threat" to the rescue workers' lives.

As it became clear that the forces of dictator Bashar Assad would reconquer the south of Syria, those same nations lobbied Israel and Jordan to help get them out, with the promise that the White Helmets and their families could then take up residence in the West.

Members of the "White Helmets" civil defence group were among those removed from the country.

The capture of a string of villages, announced by the army on Saturday, comes as evacuation of rebels and their families resumed for the second day from villages along the Golan frontier towards rebel-controlled northern Syria.

Jordan confirmed that 800 Syrian citizens have entered its territory to be resettled in Western countries, including Canada.

They operate mostly in rebel-held territory where almost all civil services have collapsed.

The group says it has saved over 114,000 lives and has lost the lives of 204 White Helmet volunteers since its founding in 2014.

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The army, backed by a Russian air campaign, has been pushing into the edges of Quneitra province following an offensive last month that routed rebels in adjoining Deraa province who were once backed by Washington, Jordan and Gulf states.

On June 19, Syrian government forces launched a Russia-backed offensive to retake Daraa and Quneitra provinces. They were besieged in a very risky area. "Therefore I approved their passage through Israel to additional countries as an important humanitarian gesture".

The White Helmets are championed by Western nations.

Syria's state-run news agency SANA reported on Sunday that Israel "smuggled" the White Helmets to Jordan, saying the volunteer group had links to terrorist groups including the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.

More than 20,000 civilians have escaped bombardment on the IS-held corner in the past 24 hours, fleeing into regime-held areas, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Damascus and its allies have accused rebels and their supporters of staging chemical attacks in an attempt to frame the government.

They were to be transferred to other buses run by local NGOs, before travelling further north to temporary camps in rebel-held areas in Idlib and Aleppo provinces, the Britain-based monitor said. It added that they were evacuated because of "a risk to their lives". Thousands of civilians had taken shelter near the frontier to escape the government offensive. In the past two years, the Israeli military says it has delivered more than 1,500 tons of food, 250 tons of clothing and almost a million liters of fuel.

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