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Jordan says nearly 300 Syrian "White Helmets" leave for West

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Jordan says nearly 300 Syrian "White Helmets" leave for West

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AMMAN (Reuters) - Around 300 Syrian "White Helmet" rescue workers who fled Syria for Jordan three months ago have now left for resettlement in Western countries, a Jordanian foreign ministry statement said on Wednesday.

In July the rescue workers, fleeing advancing Russian-backed Syrian government troops, slipped over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights frontier and into Jordan, with the help of Israeli soldiers and Western powers.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the time he had helped the evacuation at the request of U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders and that there had been fears that the rescue workers’ lives were at risk.

Jordan had accepted them after getting guarantees their stay would be temporary and they would be given asylum in Canada, Germany and Britain, Jordanian officials said.

The "White Helmets", known officially as Syria Civil Defence, have been credited with saving thousands of people in rebel-held areas during years of bombing by Syrian government and Russian forces in the country's civil war.

Its members say they are neutral. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his backers describe them as tools of Western propaganda and Islamist-led insurgents.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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