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Here’s what you need to know about Syria’s White Helmets and why Canada is resettling them

Click to play video 'White Helmets and their families rescued from Syria' White Helmets and their families rescued from Syria
WATCH: Canada played a critical role in bringing countries together to rescue White Helmets and their families from Syria. As Allison Vuchnich reports, Canada has committed to resettling some of those who made it out.

After an overnight evacuation of Syria‘s White Helmets from the advancing forces of Bashar al-Assad, the rescuers have become the rescued.

The Associated Press reported Sunday roughly 800 volunteers from the group of first responders were transported into Jordan in an Israeli military intervention that will ultimately see the members resettled in Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany.

The BBC later reported only 442 were able to be rescued.

READ MORE: Canada to resettle some of Syria’s White Helmets after overnight rescue from advancing regime forces

But news of the rescue from the midst may leave some scratching their heads.

Who are the White Helmets? Why did they need rescuing?

Here’s everything you need to know.

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WATCH BELOW: Israeli army releases footage showing extraction of ‘White Helmets’ from Syria

Click to play video 'Israeli army releases footage showing extraction of ‘White Helmets’ from Syria' Israeli army releases footage showing extraction of ‘White Helmets’ from Syria
Israeli army releases footage showing extraction of ‘White Helmets’ from Syria

Who are the White Helmets?

The White Helmets, also known as the Syria Civil Defence, were founded in 2013.

Their creation came after the Syrian Civil War began to intensify towards the end of 2012. Originally, the volunteers were part of local and regional civilian first response groups, but they later came under one single banner to work as the Syrian Civil Defence.

“The White Helmets are 3,922 volunteer search and rescue workers from local communities who risk their lives to save others and bring hope,” the organization notes in its Twitter biography.

READ MORE: Timeline of the Syrian civil war and the United States’ response

According to its profile, the volunteers claim to have saved more than 104,933 lives with their work.

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“We rush to the scene of attacks to save the greatest number of lives in the shortest possible time and to minimise further injury to people and damage to property,” the group says on its website.

“We are a neutral and impartial organisation. We do not pledge allegiance to any political party or group. We serve all the people of Syria – we are from the people and we are for the people.”

WATCH BELOW: Director of Middle East organization explains evacuation of White Helmets from Syria

Click to play video 'Director of Middle East organization explains evacuation of White Helmets from Syria' Director of Middle East organization explains evacuation of White Helmets from Syria
Director of Middle East organization explains evacuation of White Helmets from Syria

As a sort of hybrid team of first responders, the Syrian volunteers act as a combination of firefighters, paramedics, rescue and recovery crews.

They also document and share evidence of what is happening on the ground.

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In fact, their work has been nominated for two Nobel Peace Prizes.

Last year, a film about them also won the Oscar for best short documentary and Raed Saleh, their founder, was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

Why did they need to be rescued?

Despite winning widespread praise, including from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who called them “brave and selfless” on Sunday, several reports have detailed in recent years how the White Helmets have increasingly become the target of Russian information warfare.

Russia intervened in the Syrian Civil War in 2015 and since then, regime forces have steadily advanced to take back control of significant portions of the country.

READ MORE: Theatricality and deception: How Russia uses ‘maskirovka’ to shake the world

But the advance has come with repeated uses of chemical weapons, not to mention in the midst of an ongoing campaign to eradicate the so-called Islamic State.

Extremist groups, rebel factions, and the complicated ties between the two mean telling who is who on the ground can prove difficult.

WATCH: Israel’s Prime Minister says White Helmets transfer via Israel done at Trudeau, Trump and others’ request

Click to play video 'Israel’s Prime Minister says White Helmets transfer via Israel done at Trudeau, Trump and others’ request' Israel’s Prime Minister says White Helmets transfer via Israel done at Trudeau, Trump and others’ request
Israel’s Prime Minister says White Helmets transfer via Israel done at Trudeau, Trump and others’ request

In that climate, Russian propagandists – who want to see Syria back under the control of Assad – have tried to brand the White Helmets – who document the atrocities being carried out by all parties to the conflict, including regime forces – as “terrorists.”

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Regime offensives in recent days resulted in major advances into territory not under Assad’s control since 2011.

There have been roughly 130 airstrikes in the past two days and those advances into rebel-held territory – where the bulk of the White Helmets’ have operated given the lack of other available services to civilians there – meant it wouldn’t be long before the group’s volunteers were targeted too by advancing troops.

What happens next?

The rescued White Helmets makes up only a portion of the total volunteers, whose fate remains uncertain.

The Associated Press has reported that those rescued are expected to spend the next three months awaiting resettlement.

After that, they will head to new homes in Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany.

WATCH BELOW: What is Russia’s end game in Syria?

Click to play video 'What is Russia’s end game in Syria?' What is Russia’s end game in Syria?
What is Russia’s end game in Syria?

It is not yet clear what number of those rescued volunteers will come to Canada.

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A government official said Canada has agreed to take 250, made up of 50 WHite Helmets and their families, but cautioned that number could still change.

Canada took in 25,000 refugees from the Syrian Civil War in 2015 and 2016.