A rescue worker with the Syrian Civil Defense (SCD), also known as the White Helmets, was killed yesterday when the Assad regime targeted a rescue vehicle in the city of Atarib, west of Aleppo.
The attack, which used a guided missile, destroyed the White Helmets’ vehicle and killed the driver, Abdul Basit Ahmed Abdulkhaleq. It was the latest in a series of “double-tap” attacks by the Assad regime and its Russian allies, in which a first strike is followed by a second strike on rescue workers and other first responders who arrive to help the injured.
“This heinous act of terrorism serves as a stark reminder of the immense dangers faced by White Helmets volunteers and humanitarian workers in Syria,” the SCD said in a statement. “The deliberate double attack carried out by the Assad regime not only flagrantly disregards the principles of international humanitarian law, but also undermines crucial life-saving efforts.”
The SCD said that Abdulkhaleq was the 306th member of the organization to be killed in the line of duty. The majority of those killed were killed “while rescuing civilians” in double-tap attacks.
The White Helmets have been praised for their work in rescuing civilians from the rubble of airstrikes and shelling in Syria. They have also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Assad regime has been accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity for its conduct of the Syrian civil war. The United Nations has documented the use of double-tap attacks by the Assad regime and its allies.
The international community has condemned the Assad regime’s attacks on the White Helmets. In a statement, the United Nations said that the attacks “constitute a serious violation of international humanitarian law.”
The United States has also condemned the attacks. “The United States condemns in the strongest terms the Assad regime’s latest attack on the White Helmets,” the State Department said in a statement. “This attack is a clear violation of international law and a deliberate attempt to target those who are trying to help the Syrian people.”
The attacks on the White Helmets are a reminder of the immense dangers faced by humanitarian workers in Syria. The international community must do more to protect these workers and to hold the Assad regime accountable for its crimes.