Now in its fifth bloody year, the Syrian civil war has claimed more than a quarter million lives, by some estimates. That number would be even higher if not for the White Helmets, the unofficial name of the rescue organization otherwise known as the Syrian Civil Defense (SCD).
In today's Seeker Daily report, Laura Ling profiles the work of this astonishing emergency response organization.
Made up entirely of volunteers, the Syrian Civil Defense works within Syria's conflict zones to help civilians injured in attacks. The group has no political allegiance and its members are unarmed and unpaid. Yet over the years, the volunteer force of 3,000 or so has rescued more than 60,000 people from dangerous war zones, pulling survivors from the rubble of incessant military bombings. The SCD as an organization was recently nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
The work of the SCD is extremely dangerous. More than 130 volunteers have been killed in the line of duty. Although the group is unarmed and dedicated solely to saving civilian lives, the White Helmets are often targeted by groups on both sides of the conflict, including militias backed by ISIS, al-Qaeda and the Syrian government itself.
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Nevertheless, SCD volunteers continue to help anyone caught in the crossfire of the civil war, regardless of ideology. They have even rescued officers of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, who order many of the bombings. Their only goal is to save the greatest amount of lives in the shortest amount of time. The SCD motto: "To save on life is to save all of humanity."
While the group is officially neutral and humanitarian, the White Helmets have urged the international community to take action against Russia and al- Assad for use of illegal barrel bombs. The group has also criticized Western powers for focusing on terror groups rather than the Assad regime, which is responsible for far more civilian deaths.
Laura has more details in her report, or if you're a Netflix subscriber, consider clicking on over to the excellent 40-minute short documentary "The White Helmets."
-- Glenn McDonald
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