Syria crisis

Syria's White Helmets senior member and family flown to Germany

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A senior member of the Syrian civil defense and medical group that operates in opposition-held areas, known as the White Helmets, has been flown to Germany, a German diplomat said Tuesday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because she wasn’t authorized to be quoted by name, the official confirmed a report by German weekly Der Spiegel that Khaled al-Saleh and his family had arrived in Germany.

Der Spiegel reported that al-Saleh was flown out of Jordan on a Luftwaffe plane late Monday.

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He had been living in the kingdom since 2018 after helping organize the evacuation of hundreds of besieged White Helmet members from Syria to Jordan, via Israel.

Many of those evacuated were resettled in Europe and Canada, but efforts to bring al-Saleh to Germany were stymied by concerns among security officials in Germany that he might have ties to Islamist extremists, Der Spiegel reported.

The White Helmets have enjoyed backing and received funding and training from Western nations and have been nominated previously for the Nobel Peace Prize. The Syrian government and Russia accuses them of cooperating with radical militant groups.

Der Spiegel reported that Jordan’s King Abdullah II personally intervened with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to ensure al-Saleh’s resettlement.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have sought refuge in Germany since the start of the war in Syria.

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