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  • Imagine you are walking down the street in the city youve called home your entire

  • life and then -- this happens….

  • This is a scene that plays out everyday in cities across Syria.

  • The Civil War is currently in its fifth bloody year, and the country is virtually unrecognizable.

  • City streets are barren, buildings have turned to rubble... and an estimated 250,000 lives

  • have been lost.

  • But thousands more would have perished if it wasn’t for one group of civilians who

  • fearlessly rush toward danger.

  • When bombs go off, these men and women in white helmets rescue victims caught in the

  • crossfire.

  • So who are these so calledWhite Helmets”?

  • The White Helmets is the unofficial name for the Syrian Civil Defence, a rescue organization

  • made up entirely of volunteers who operate in opposition-controlled Syria.

  • According to their own data, the group have rescued more than 58,000 people, including

  • Omran Daqneesh, the toddler who painfully reminded the world of the horrors unfolding

  • in Syria everyday.

  • The task of these modern day war heroes is extremely dangerous.

  • To date, around 130 white helmet volunteers have been killed in the country’s relentless

  • civil war.

  • One of the groups most notable losses happened in August 2015, when an airstrike killed the

  • White Helmet volunteer who famously rescued a baby who had been trapped under rubble for

  • 16 hours..

  • One of the White Helmet’s biggest challenges is barrel and cluster bombs.

  • These explosives are full of chemicals or bits of metal that are designed to cause indiscriminate

  • casualties, and are against international law.

  • Since Russia intervened in the civil war in 2015, these attacks have become more frequent,

  • with some cities being hit multiple times a day.

  • Aside from the danger presented by barrel bombs, the white helmets also have to operate

  • in the presence of rival militias, the Islamic State and groups linked to al-Qaeda.

  •  And theyve even rescued Syrian government officials, who are themselves often responsible

  • for many of the attacks.

  • That’s because the White Helmets are by and large, a non political organization.

  • That is, their only goal is tosave the greatest amount of lives in the shortest amount

  • of time”, regardless of the ideological stance of the people theyre rescuing.

  • However, that’s not to say that the group stays out of the political arena.

  • The White Helmets have urged the international community to take action against Russia and

  • Syrian President Bashar al- Assad for use of illegal barrel bombs.

  • Though the UN argues that aside from banning them, there is little they can do to alleviate

  • the situation.

  • The White Helmets have also critiqued the Western world for being too focused on defeating

  • terror groups than Assad, despite the fact that the Syrian regime is responsible for

  • considerably more civilian deaths.

  • .

  • And maybe that message may be finally getting through.

  • When the war in Syria escalated around the end of 2012, the White Helmets were relatively

  • unknown.

  • Back then, they were comprised of disjointed teams of volunteers.

  • Today, the White Helmets, are receiving more international attention.

  • In 2016 the group was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and was featured in a Netflix

  • Short Documentary.

  • And thanks in part, to modest funding from individual donors, as well as the UK, Denmark,

  • Holland, Japan, Germany and the US, they are now a formal emergency response organization.

  • The White Helmets have a motto: “to save one life, is to save all of humanity”.

  • And as the Syria faces another failed ceasefire, the volunteers will continue what some have

  • called the most dangerous job in

  • the world.

Imagine you are walking down the street in the city youve called home your entire

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Who Are Syria’s White Helmets?

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    ANYI posted on 2017/04/17
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