FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016, file photo, provided by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, rescue workers move a victim from site of airstrikes in the al-Sakhour neighborhood of the rebel-held part of eastern Aleppo, Syria. The call to get ready came at night. In the raging war zone of southwestern Syria, with enemy government forces on the march, the 98 White Helmets were told to bring spouses, children and but a few belongings to two collection points. Fabled rescuers themselves now in need of rescue, they embarked on a hair-raising journey through Israel, a supposed enemy, enroute to reluctant haven in Jordan, a country already burdened with multitudes of refugees. One woman gave birth along the way, many colleagues were left behind to a fate uncertain, and Syria called the multinational operation by several Western powers a crime. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP, File)

Trapped Syrian White Helmets live in fear, seek a way out

July 25, 2018 - 7:57 am

BEIRUT (AP) — White Helmets volunteers trapped in southern Syria after the government seized areas they operated in say they live in fear of being caught in the dragnet of the government, which considers them its staunchest enemy, and are desperately seeking a way out.

Hundreds of White Helmets volunteers failed to make it out of southern Syria in a complex international evacuation this week because they were caught in the fast-changing battlefield.

Two of those who couldn't make the evacuation tell The Associated Press on Wednesday they live incognito, using off roads to avoid government checkpoints and moving in tight circles.

The psychological pressure, both say, is even more crippling. Unlike others who decided to stay in the government-controlled south, the White Helmets say it is impossible to trust the government to reconcile.

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