Syria civil Defence - Statement

Syria Civil Defence (aka the White Helmets) reaffirms their call for immediate end of atrocities against the civilians in Syria and their support for any fair process which results in the long-term cessation of hostilities, ensures the protection of all civilian populations and the accountability for all perpetrators of crimes and violations in Syria.

The White Helmets have been targeted recently by falseallegations of affiliation with armed actors and, in particular, terrorist groups. We wish to reiterate that we are in no way affiliated with any armed actors or political groups. Each individual White Helmets volunteer has signed up to the Syria Civil Defence charter, which commits us to “protection and assistance for all” and a pledge “to fulfil all missions with neutrality, impartiality and humanity”. It is not a priority for Syria Civil Defence to comment on each fabricated picture and false allegation that try to undermine our humanitarian work, that is because our mission is to save the maximum number of lives, and we will not allow deceptive political propagandas to distract us.

It is true that there have been few isolated incidents in which individual volunteers have acted inappropriately and either outside the Syria Civil Defence Pledge or its Code of Conduct. In these instances, the incidents have been investigated and appropriate disciplinary action has been taken in accordance with our values and principals.

According to our pledge, our teams rescue everyone in need without investigating their identity, affiliation, ethnicity or political allegiance. Thus, It is true that White Helmets have rescued members of organisations such as Fath Al-Sham and the ”Islamic State”. It is also true that White Helmets have rescued members of the Assad’s Army and its foreign militia allies.

It is true that we have former members of the opposition armed groups and Assad’s Army in our ranks. These individuals have taken the decision to put down their arms in favour of saving lives.

It is true that our 121 centres only operate in areas not currently under the control of the Syrian Regime. We have however offered our support to all communities across Syria, including those under Regime control, noting that civilians in those communities are in less need of our urgent search and rescue services since they’re not exposed to airstrikes.  As such we continue to make all our protection manuals and materials available to those populations and their community civil defence organisations and representatives.

At this critical time, Syria Civil Defence wishes to publicly reaffirm its call to the protection of all civilians regardless of religion, ethnicity or political orientation.  Syria Civil Defence is committed to supporting the extension of bridges of trust across our local communities, the reintegration of them, the rebuilding of our society and the reconstruction of Syria.

We wish also to extend our ongoing support to our comrades in all humanitarian organizations who work impartially to protect and help civilians in all Syrian communities, irrespective of which armed or political actor’s territory these Syrians inhabit.