Israel says it has carried out an evacuation of members of Syria’s White Helmets civil defence group from a war zone in south-western Syria.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said they had acted on a request from the US and European nations.

Some 800 people were evacuated to Jordan via the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights overnight, Israeli media say.

The White Helmets describe themselves as a volunteer workforce that acts to save people in Syria’s war zones.

Although they operate only in rebel-held areas, they say they are non-partisan.

Supporters of President Bashar al-Assad, and his ally Russia, say the White Helmets support the rebels and also have links to jihadist groups.

The evacuated White Helmets had been working in an area controlled by the Syrian opposition in the south-west of the country and had been trapped by a government offensive.

The IDF said they had “completed a humanitarian effort to rescue members of a Syrian civil organisation and their families”, saying there was an “immediate threat to their lives”.

They said the civilians were transferred “through Israel” and “subsequently to a neighboring country”.

Although Israel is not directly involved in the Syria conflict, the two countries have been in a state of war for decades.

Despite the intervention, the IDF said that “Israel continues to maintain a non-intervention policy regarding the Syrian conflict”.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon later confirmed the evacuees were White Helmet members and their families, though neither he nor the IDF named the country receiving the civilians.

However, Jordan’s government confirmed it had “authorised the United Nations to organise the passage of 800 Syrian citizens through Jordan to be resettled in Western countries”.

It said that “Britain, Germany and Canada made a legally binding undertaking to resettle them within a specified period of time due to ‘a risk to their lives'”.

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