‘Ugly crime’: 7 White Helmet members gunned down in Syria
AFP - Sun, Aug 13th 2017 12:30 AM
‘Ugly crime’: 7 White Helmet members gunned down in Syria
BEIRUT: Unidentified assailants shot dead seven members of Syria’s White Helmets rescue service early Saturday during a raid on their base in an opposition-held northwestern town, the group said.
The attackers struck in Sarmin, 9 km east of the city of Idlib, which is controlled by the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham alliance.
“The civil defense center in Sarmin was the target of an armed attack by unknown assailants in which seven volunteers were killed,” the White Helmets said in statement.
“Two minibuses, some white helmets and walkie-talkies were stolen.”
It was not immediately clear whether the motives for the raid were political or purely criminal.
Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham denounced what it called an “ugly crime” and vowed to track down the perpetrators and bring them to account.
The group said the attack was aimed at “undermining our revolution,” adding that it stood ready to protect the White Helmets in “liberated areas” of Syria.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the seven volunteers had all been killed by bullets to the head. “Colleagues came in the morning for the change of shift and found them dead,” its director, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP.
The White Helmets emerged in 2013, working to rescue civilians in opposition-held areas.
They have since gained international renown for their daring rescues, often filmed and circulated on social media, and were nominated for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize.
Although they work exclusively in opposition-held areas, they insist they are nonpartisan.
Their detractors, including President Bashar Assad’s regime and his ally Russia, accuse them of being tools of their international donors.
They receive funding from a number of Western governments, including Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and the US.
Critics also accuse them of harboring opposition fighters, including hard-liners, in their ranks.
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